Scores dead as Israel attacks Gaza

The Scotsman

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Israeli warplanes and helicopters pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing at least 195 people in one of the bloodiest days in the Palestinians' conflict with Israel.

Militants in the Gaza Strip, who have launched dozens of rocket attacks against Israel since a truce expired just over a week ago, fired more salvoes that killed one Israeli man and wounded several others.

Both sides said they were ready to stage wider assaults.

Black smoke billowed over Gaza City, where the dead and wounded lay scattered on the ground after the Israeli air strikes destroyed more than 30 security compounds, including two where Hamas was hosting graduation ceremonies for new recruits.

At the main police headquarters, some rescue workers beat their heads and shouted "God is greatest." One badly wounded man lying nearby quietly recited verses from the Koran. Hamas called the assault a "massacre."

Israel said it had targeted "terrorist infrastructure" following days of rocket attacks from Gaza on southern Israel that caused some damage but few injuries.

"There is a time for calm and a time for fighting, and now the time has come to fight," Defence Minister Ehud Barak said.

The rocket attacks had increased pressure on Israeli political leaders to strike Hamas ahead of a February 10 election.

Barak said that the military campaign would take time and would be expanded "as necessary." Hamas leaders could be targeted, an army spokeswoman said. Hamas reported a new Israeli air strike after dark in southern Gaza.

The mayor of Ashkelon, the Mediterranean coastal city in range of Hamas's Grad rockets, said Israeli military planners had told him the operation would last for "more than a week."

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a leading candidate to become Israel's next prime minister, called for international support against "an extremist Islamist organisation ... that is being supported by Iran," Israel's arch-foe.

"Only last week Israel was attacked from the Gaza Strip and in a day about 80 missiles and mortars were fired against Israeli civilians," she said. "Enough is enough."

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an "immediate halt to all violence."

The administration of U.S. President George Bush, in its final weeks in office, appeared to put the onus on Hamas to prevent a further escalation.

REACTION

"Hamas' continued rocket attacks into Israel must cease if the violence is to stop," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement that urged Israel to avoid civilian casualties but stopped short of calling for an end to the Israeli air strikes.

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana, in contrast, called for an immediate cease-fire and urged "everybody to exert maximum restraint," his spokesman said.

Hamas threatened to unleash "hell" to avenge the dead, including possible suicide bombings inside Israel.

As darkness fell, Palestinian health service officials put the death toll at 195.

Hamas estimated that at least 100 members of its security forces were killed, including police chief Tawfiq Jabber and the head of Hamas's security and protection unit, along with at least 15 women and some children.

Morgues across the Gaza Strip ran out of space for bodies.

The Islamist group, which won a 2006 parliamentary election but was shunned by Western powers over its refusal to renounce violence and recognise Israel, said all of its security compounds in the Gaza Strip were destroyed.

Aid groups said they feared the Israeli operation could fuel a humanitarian crisis in the impoverished coastal enclave, home to 1.5 million Palestinians, half of them dependent on food aid.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Israeli air campaign was "criminal" and urged the international community to intervene.

Palestinians staged protest rallies in Arab East Jerusalem, and in the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Hebron, leading to scuffles with the Israeli army.

Egypt said it would keep trying to restore the truce between Israel and Gaza. Arab foreign ministers were set to hold an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday or Monday to take a common position on the raids.

Israeli military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai said the strike was "shock treatment ... aimed at securing a long-term cease-fire between Hamas and Israel on terms that are favourable to Israel."

Israeli warplanes also destroyed Gaza's presidential compound, which Hamas seized in June 2007 from Abbas's secular Fatah forces after a brief civil war.

At the main Gaza City graduation ceremony, uniformed bodies lay in a pile and the wounded writhed in pain. Rescuers carried those showing signs of life to cars and ambulances, while others tried to revive the unconscious.

Witnesses also reported heavy Israeli bombing along Gaza's border with Egypt. Palestinians use hundreds of tunnels under the border to bring in everything from goods to weapons.

The campaign followed a decision by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's security cabinet to widen reprisals for cross-border Palestinian rocket attacks following the collapse of a six-month-old, Egyptian-brokered cease-fire a week ago.

A five-day Israeli offensive in March killed more than 120 people, but Saturday's death toll would be the highest for Palestinians since their 1980s uprising.

Olmert, who will leave office after the February election, has repeatedly said Israel does not want to retake control of the Gaza Strip. Israel pulled its ground forces and settlers out of the coastal territory in 2005.

After a 2006 war in Lebanon that many Israelis viewed as a failure, military action in Gaza has become a political hot potato that could affect the outcome of the election.

Has the time come to consider whether Isreal is a really a strategic asset to the US or a liability. In this post-cold war era I think Israel is a liability as it has little to offer the US except offering distractions to a nascent US Government like the above. The US establishment has better things to occupy its time without trying to herd adolescent idiots in Israel.
 
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Pandora

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I heard about it on the radio this morning, The news is not really talking about it though

from what I heard so far they got attacked again early this AM and said thats it and did a much larger counter attack.

I dont know what else they can do, I understand non military people died and that sucks bad.


as for the USA defending Israel. That all ends January 20th 2009.
 

GenSeneca

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The US establishment has better things to occupy its time without trying to herd adolescent idiots in Israel.

Why do you place onus on the Israelis rather than the Palestinians? Because the Israelis killed more people? If Hamas had not launched rockets into Israel (cause), Israel would not have counter attacked (effect). Palestine needs only to control Hamas and keep them from attacking Israel, then there would be "peace" between the two countries.

While I don't agree with the Israeli policy of settlements, I do think Israel has a right to exist and they would live in peace if their neighbors stopped attacking them.
 

Pandora

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If there was a body count done, Hamas has killed more Israelis with suicide bombers on busses and in cafe's and the like. And I know of no time that they did not start it. Hamas kills 80 in a cafe' then Israel targets a known Hamas hide out and kills 10 in a targeted bombing. And it goes on and on like that. I hope Israel never just lays down and dies to please nay sayers.
 

Dawkinsrocks

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NoObamanation, the US has killed hundreds of thousands of non military people in Iraq.

And it provides the money, weapons and support for Israel to do this kind of thing
 

Pandora

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NoObamanation, the US has killed hundreds of thousands of non military people in Iraq.

And it provides the money, weapons and support for Israel to do this kind of thing

I do not think you are accurate but I don’t think that you care that you are not accurate so it’s pointless to go further with you on Iraq.

You need not worry, Israel will be hung out to dry in just a few weeks and the States will join the Europeans with more aid and comfort to the terrorists than the victims of the terror.

And only about 49 percent of the country will give a crap about it!
 

The Scotsman

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Why do you place onus on the Israelis rather than the Palestinians?
.........A very good question..... IMHO the Israeli people and their politicians fight on two primary fronts - with themselves and with the world. If as much effort was expended in examining their own internal problems as was expended by their military, intelligence services and lobby groups fighting with the outside world then their struggles in understanding the interactions and relationships with their neighbours may well be a little easier.

All the while they are fighting amongst themselves they have the comfort that their big brothers in the US and the political clout held in the UN will not find sanction against them thus they are free to continue their little petty internal squabbles and struggles. The palestinians merely know how to prod a running sore and keep the blood flowing, the aim of the Palestinian attacks are designed to inflame the passions of the hardliners in Israel and thus keep the moderates at bay. If there is no conflict there is no money, charity or pity for Palestine.
 

Bunz

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Im not going to bother in taking sides on this action as of yet, despite Israel probably having plenty of reason for thier actions concerning thier own security in the face on many rockets being fired directly after a signed cease fire had been agreed to...
I ask in all sincerety to anyone who would like to chime in, I have long thought about the centuries ongoing conflict between the Muslims and Jews, that it could probably be solved by pork.
I am not talking about government expenditures, but the actual consuming of the meat.

When two major religions/cultures deny themselves the greatness of bacon, only bad can happen. If we could just have a major pig roast, a lasting peace might be on hand. Folks, I think center cut pork chops might just be the answer.
 

numinus

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I do not see why the international community wishes to deal with failed states and expect anything good can come out of it. And make no mistake, the palestinian authority is a failed state.
 

The Scotsman

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Israel pounds Gaza for second day

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Israel pounded Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip from the air on Sunday for a second day and prepared for a possible invasion of the territory after killing nearly 290 Palestinians in the opening rounds of a powerful offensive.


Israel said the campaign that began on Saturday was a response to almost daily rocket and mortar fire that intensified after Hamas, an Islamist group in charge of the coastal enclave Israel quit in 2005, ended a six-month cease-fire a week ago.

Despite the air attacks, militants fired some 80 rockets into Israel, emergency services said. In one of the longest-reaching salvoes, two rockets struck near Ashdod, a main port 30 km (18 miles) from Gaza, causing no casualties.

Israeli tanks deployed on the edge of the Gaza Strip, poised to enter the densely populated enclave of 1.5 million Palestinians. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's cabinet approved a call-up of 6,500 reservists, a government official said.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who hopes to become prime minister after elections next month, appeared to rule out a large-scale invasion aimed at restoring Israeli control of the blockaded territory once dotted with Jewish settlements.

"Our goal is not to reoccupy Gaza Strip," she said on NBC's "Meet the Press" programme. Asked on Fox News if Israel was out to topple Gaza's Hamas rulers, Livni replied: "Not now."

Mark Regev, a spokesman for Olmert, said Israel would press on with the campaign "until we have a new security environment in the south, when the population there will no longer live in terror and in fear of constant rocket barrages."

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum urged Palestinian groups to use "all available means, including martyrdom operations" -- a reference to suicide bombings in Israel -- to "protect the Palestinian people."

Keeping pressure on Hamas after bombing runs that turned Saturday into one of the bloodiest days for Palestinians in 60 years of conflict, Israeli aircraft flattened the group's main security compound in Gaza, killing at least four security men.

Israel expanded its air campaign to the southern Gaza Strip, bombing some 40 smuggling tunnels running under the border with Egypt, part of a network that is lifeline to the outside world.

Israeli bombs also destroyed Hamas's regional headquarters and medical officials said several people were wounded. A militant was killed in an air strike in the northern Gaza Strip.

The deaths raised to 287 the number of Palestinian dead since Saturday, when Israel launched what one Israeli newspaper columnist described as "shock and awe" air strikes against Hamas facilities. More than 700 Palestinians were wounded.

One Israeli was killed on Saturday by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip.

CIVILIANS

Hamas estimated that at least 15 women and some children had been killed in the past two days. "Palestine has never seen an uglier massacre," Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said.

Livni said Israel was "trying to make all the efforts to target only terrorists and Hamas headquarters and places, but unfortunately, in a war, like any war, sometimes also civilians pay the price."

Israeli military affairs commentators said Israeli leaders, wary of taking the politically risky move of reoccupying the Gaza Strip ahead of Israel's February 10 election, were using the offensive to try to bolster the country's deterrence power and force Hamas into a long-term truce.

Violence spread to the occupied West Bank, where Israeli soldiers opened fire at rock-throwing Palestinian protesters. Palestinian medical officials said one Palestinian was killed.

In Hebron, also in the West Bank, Palestinian forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah shot and wounded three people during a protest by Islamist groups in support of Hamas, a Reuters reporter at the scene said.

The U.N. Security Council, responding to the Gaza operation, called on all sides to cease fire. Brushing aside the appeal, an Israeli official said Israel was feeling little international pressure to halt its operations.

In the Gaza Strip, parents kept their children home from school as the roar of Israeli aircraft and thunder of explosions echoed in the distance. Schools in Israel's southern communities, due to reopen on Tuesday after the Jewish holiday of Hannukah, were ordered to remain shut.

Abbas, speaking in Cairo, blamed Hamas, which seized the Gaza Strip from Fatah in 2007, for triggering Israel's raids by not extending the cease-fire that Egypt brokered in June.

U.S. President George W. Bush's administration, in its final weeks in office, put the onus on Hamas to prevent more violence.

Aid groups said they feared a humanitarian crisis. Gaza hospitals said they were running out of supplies because of a long-standing Israeli-led blockade of the territory.

Palestinian officials said 10 truckloads of flour and medical supplies were transferred through an Israeli border terminal on Sunday.

And the fun continues..........:rolleyes:
 

The Scotsman

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Im not going to bother in taking sides on this action as of yet, despite Israel probably having plenty of reason for thier actions concerning thier own security in the face on many rockets being fired directly after a signed cease fire had been agreed to....

Do you think that maybe this "crisis" has been manufactured? I mean to say 50 rockets launched and a couple of Israelis dead neccessitates the killing of 250 ragheads? Does that not strike one as being a bit disproportionate!

Anyway the approval for the strikes would have had to come from the White House which again begs the question of why now? Is this intended to send a message to Mr. Obama and his relationship with Israel........ with an economic crisis at home and Obama spending billions on propping up the domestic economy don't you think Israel would be getting more than slightly worried! Israel only exists because of the money donated by the US so my take on this whole affair is quite simple. Israel is sending a message to Obama using a few pipe rockets launched by raghead nutters as leverage to secure its share of the US tax dollar in order to maintain its own existance.
 

Pidgey

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...I have long thought about the centuries ongoing conflict between the Muslims and Jews, that it could probably be solved by pork.
I am not talking about government expenditures, but the actual consuming of the meat.

When two major religions/cultures deny themselves the greatness of bacon, only bad can happen. If we could just have a major pig roast, a lasting peace might be on hand. Folks, I think center cut pork chops might just be the answer.
Let's just load some KC-135 Stratotankers with pigfat and fly 'em over to... "fertilize" the entire region--then they won't be fighting over it.:eek:

That'd be a new twist on the old phrase "gave 'em a real porking"...
 
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