Operation Cast Lead – Update No. 11

The UN Security Council session

The UN Security Council session

Girl terrified by rocket attack in Ashqelon

Girl terrified by rocket attack in Ashqelon

IDF Spokesman, January 8, 2009

IDF Spokesman, January 8, 2009

Amir al-Mansi

Amir al-Mansi

IDF Spokesman, January 9, 2009

IDF Spokesman, January 9, 2009

House in Ashqelon suffers a direct hit

House in Ashqelon suffers a direct hit

Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired at Israel during Operation Cast Lead

Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired at Israel during Operation Cast Lead

Palestine-info website, January 11, 2009

Palestine-info website, January 11, 2009

Sami Abu Zuhri

Sami Abu Zuhri

Hamas and Al-Qaeda

Hamas and Al-Qaeda

Video about a “Shaheed” Who Was Killed during Operation Cast Lead

Video about a “Shaheed” Who Was Killed during Operation Cast Lead

Awadd al-Qarni

Awadd al-Qarni

English and Arabic websites had been launched

English and Arabic websites had been launched

Al-Alam TV, January 9, 2009

Al-Alam TV, January 9, 2009

Hamas sketch (IDF Spokesman, January 8, 2009).

Hamas sketch (IDF Spokesman, January 8, 2009).

(IDF Spokesman, January 7, 2009).

(IDF Spokesman, January 7, 2009).

Hamas forum

Hamas forum


The Security Council passes
Resolution 1860…

 

…leading to an increase in
Hamas rocket fire

The UN Security Council session  

Girl terrified by rocket attack in Ashqelon

The UN Security Council session which passed Resolution 1860 calling for an immediate ceasefire (UN website, January 8, 2009).

 

Girl terrified by rocket attack in Ashqelon (Edi Israel, January 9, 2009).

IDF activities in the past 24 hours

The first week of the ground operation

 On January 3, IDF infantry, armored, engineering and artillery forces entered the Gaza Strip with backup from the sea and air. Their objectives were to complement the air attacks, damage Hamas and its terrorist infrastructure, take control of rocket and mortar shell launching sites and reduce the number of attacks on Israeli territory.

 The ground phase began with the entrance of forces into the northern and southern Gaza Strip, which was then divided. During the past few days the IDF has advanced its action in the northern Gaza Strip , the region from which most of the rockets are launched into Israel . The IDF simultaneously surrounded Gaza City and continued its counterterrorism activities in the northern and southern Gaza strip. The fighting has been waged from house to house in densely populated areas. IDF forces have had to face challenges which include mined routes, large quantities of IEDs, an extensive network of booby-trapped tunnels, suicide bombers and the extensive use of civilians as human shields.

 The ground operation has attacked various parts of the terrorist infrastructure, including tunnels, weapons stores, rocket and mortar shell launching squads and sites, terrorist operatives and their houses, military bases and facilities, and terrorist bases in mosques and other civilian buildings. The ground action has dealt a severe blow to the Hamas’s front-line defensive positions and led to a retreat of its operatives into built-up areas .

 During the past 24 hours IDF forces went deeper into the Gaza Strip to attack the terrorist infrastructure. The friction between the IDF and the terrorist operatives from all the organizations increased, and about 50 were killed. Pressure on the terrorist organizations was intensified, apparent, among other things, in the decrease in the extent of rocket and mortar shell attacks against Israel (See below).

Important events during the past three days

 The events were the following:

 January 8 : Three IDF soldiers were killing in three separate incidents:

•  Tank crew member Sergeant Amit Robinson , 20, from Kibbutz Magal, was killed in an exchange of fire with terrorist operatives during a combined infantry, armored forces and engineering action in the northern Gaza Strip.

•  Battalion commander Major Roee Rosner , 27, from Holon , was killed by anti-tank fire during a search and discover action in the central Gaza Strip. Another soldier sustained minor injuries.

•  Infantry battalion commander Captain Omer Rabinovitch , 23, from Arad , was killed in an exchange of fire with armed terrorist in the northern Gaza Strip. Another soldier sustained minor injuries.

IDF Spokesman, January 8, 2009
Two of the IDF soldiers killed on January 8. Left: Captain Omer Rabinovitch.
Right: Sergeant Amit Robinson (IDF Spokesman, January 8, 2009).

 Other events of January 8 : The IDF killed Palestinian Islamic Jihad operative Tariq Abu Amshab , 22, from Beit Hanoun, who was involved in attacking IDF forces with IEDs and daily rocket fire into Israel . Muhammad Najar , 26, from Jabaliya, was also killed. In addition, IDF forces located a weapons laboratory in the northern Gaza Strip containing large amounts of explosives, and two tunnels. The tunnels were blown up in controlled explosions. In another instance, an IDF force uncovered a tunnel with RPGs, detonation mechanisms, Kalashnikov assault rifles, hand grenades and knives.

 January 9 : During the ground operation IDF forces killed armed terrorists in various incidents. An IDF force located a house booby-trapped with a number of land mines. Another IDF force was attacked with anti-tank missiles, returned fire and killed the attackers. In another instance, a tank force attacked a structure where terrorist snipers were hiding and from which Sergeant Amit Robinson had been killed on January 8.

 January 10 : Based on intelligence, IDF forces killed Amir al-Mansi , commander of rocket attacks for Gaza City , and who was acting commander of the Gaza artillery brigade. He was identified by the force while he fired rockets in Jabal Reis. The IDF force opened fire, killing him and wounding two other terrorists. Al-Mansi was an expert in firing long-range Grad rockets and was active in firing rockets into Israel which killed and wounded many Israel civilians.

Amir al-Mansi
Amir al-Mansi
(Islamic University website, Gaza ).

 January 10 : On the night of January 10 the Israeli Air Force attacked the house of Ahmed Ja’abari, commander of Hamas’s military-terrorist wing in Saja’iya (IDF Spokesman, January 11). The results of the attack are unclear so far.

Israeli Air Force and Navy attacks continue

 The Israeli Air Force and Navy continued attacks and provided back-up for the ground forces operating in the Gaza Strip. Between January 8 and 10 the Israeli Air Force attacked more than 250 targets , and 20 more on the morning of January 11. Since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead the Israeli Air Force has attacked approximately 1,500 targets , including rocket and mortar shell launching sites, mortar shell launchers and the squads operating them, weapons manufacturing sites, tunnels, Hamas’s operational network, weapons stores, Hamas posts, headquarters, training camps, armed operatives, senior Hamas figures, etc.

The Engineering Corps in the Land Phase of Operation Cast Lead
(Information from the IDF Spokesman’s website)

 The combat engineering corps is important in ground fighting, including in urban warfare in densely-populated areas. Its fighters provide responses to the many obstacles and threats on the ground, such as booby-trapped buildings, opening routes and dozens of tunnels, and neutralizing IEDs while Hamas tries to attack. A combat engineering officer said that urban warfare conditions were difficult and complex, and Hamas’s weapons and sophisticated traps also had to be taken into consideration.

 The combat engineering forces reported that they often have to deal with booby-trapped doors and windows, and sometimes entire buildings and their contents have been rigged as bombs. One officer said that "Hamas tries to attack us in every possible way imaginable…In one house they set up a booby-trapped mannequin dressed as a Hamas terrorist…There are also dozens of booby-trapped houses and a large number of booby-trapped schools and mosques .” In one instance a terrorist operative wearing an IDF uniform approached an elite combat engineering unit. The incident resulted in the wounding of an IDF soldier.

 On the 13 th day of the fighting, an officer summed up the situation by saying that "so far we have dealt the Hamas infrastructure a serious blow…The combat engineering forces operate intensively and so far they have blown up dozens of buildings, destroyed terrorist networks with explosives and bulldozers, dealt with dozens of tunnels, weapons caches and weapons laboratories.” The officer also said that "the IDF forces are exposed to IEDs ready to be detonated. In one building they found six devices. In such cases, the forces destroy them along with the building.”

IDF Spokesman, January 9, 2009
Combat engineer fighter in the field with an armored D9 caterpillar in the background
(IDF Spokesman, January 9, 2009 ).

Rocket and Mortar Shell Fire into Israeli Territory

 Rocket and mortar shell fire continues at the rate of several dozen attacks a day. In general, there is a slow trend toward a decrease in the number of attacks. An exception was January 9, the day after the Security Council passed Resolution 1860, when there was a increase in the amount of rocket fire (See Graph). On January 8, 15 rockets and four mortar shells fell in Israeli territory. Over the weekend there were 35 rockets and 14 mortar shells . Some of the rockets were 122mm long-range rockets. In addition, a number of mortar shells were fired at IDF forces operating in the Gaza Strip. Since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead 439 rockets and 158 mortar shells have been fired.

 On January 9, a 122mm Grad rocket hit a house in the city of Ashqelon . Three civilians were wounded, one of them seriously, while the other two sustained minor injuries. The house suffered extensive damage.

House in Ashqelon suffers a direct hit
House in Ashqelon suffers a direct hit (Photo: Edi Israel , January 10, 2009 ).

Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired at Israel during Operation Cast Lead 

Rockets and Mortar Shells Fired at Israel during Operation Cast Lead

Humanitarian Aid Delivered into the Gaza Strip

Humanitarian Corridor Reopened

 Since January 7, the IDF has halted its activities for three hours a day to enable the opening of a humanitarian corridor. The corridor makes it possible for the civilian population to stock up on food and drugs, for the wounded to be evacuated and for the vital aspects of local infrastructure to be repaired. Opening the corridor helps improve the situation of the civilian Gazans, who are paying a high price for the extensive use Hamas makes of them as human shields.

 On Friday, January 9, during the pause in the fighting, 41 trucks carrying supplies entered the Gaza Strip. On Saturday, January 10, the crossings remained closed, as they do every Saturday, but there was a pause in the fighting so that civilians could leave their houses to stock up. On Sunday, January 11, the humanitarian corridor was opened between 1100 and 1400 hours and 91 trucks carrying supplies entered the Gaza Strip. On January 8, 250 foreign residents left the Gaza Strip via the Erez crossing.

 An improvement is evident on the ground, especially in the supply of food to the population, which can be seen in the streets during the pauses, with the exception of the main battle sites where they are afraid to go outside. In addition, the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip has improved. As for the medical situation, there is no lack of drugs because they are supplied daily in large quantities, but there is a shortage of trained medical personnel and the hospitals carry a great load.

International Community Accuses Israel of Responsibility

for the Humanitarian Situation in the Gaza Strip

 Despite the fact that Israel enables the continuous delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, and even halts the fighting for three hours a day for the humanitarian corridor ( a ceasefire not fully respected by the terrorist organizations ), harsh international criticism continues. On January 8 UNRWA announced it was suspending its activities in the Gaza Strip immediately because they were endangered by the IDF forces. UNRWA claimed that one of its trucks was shot at by IDF forces as it approached the Erez crossing and that the driver was killed. That was in addition, it claimed, to the incident at its school.

 In response the IDF said that it was examining the circumstances of the shooting. On January 9, a UN spokesman said that UNRWA activity would be renewed as soon as possible , once Israel guaranteed the protection of UNRWA worker welfare and facilities.

 Side-by-side with UNRWA criticism, the World Food Programme praised the humanitarian corridor as the first step in easing the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip (UN website, January 8, 2009 ).

The Rafah crossing

 During the past three days the Rafah crossing was open continuously for the delivery of humanitarian aid and the passage of medical teams into the Gaza Strip, and for the exit of wounded Palestinians, except for periods of Israeli Air Force activity. The flow of humanitarian aid has continued into the Gaza Strip, most of it coming from the Arab countries which send it by air to the Sinai, where it is put on trucks for delivery to the Gaza Strip.

Weekend Closure on Judea and Samaria

 In accordance with an Israeli foreign minister decision, a general closure was imposed on Judea and Samaria beginning at 2359 hours on Thursday, January 8, and lifted at 2359 hours on Friday, January 10. During the closure only Palestinians with humanitarian, medical or exceptional emergencies were permitted to leave. The closure was dependent on authorization from the Coordination and Liaison Authority.

 During the past three days there were angry marches and demonstrations in Judea and Samaria : On January 9 marches were held in Hebron , Nablus , Ramallah, Qalqilya and other locations throughout Judea and Samaria , during which demonstrators confronted the Israeli security forces. On the same day, Hamas held a march in Ramallah. The marchers were confronted by the Palestinian Authority security forces, which detained a large number of demonstrators and wounded several others.

Palestine-info website, January 11, 2009
January 9 protest demonstration in Hebron

(Palestine-info website, January 11, 2009 ).

The Egyptian Initiative for a Halt to the Fighting – Update

 Egypt is currently waiting for the Israeli and Hamas responses to its initiative, and has expressed satisfaction with the support the initiative has received so far. In the assessment of the Egyptian foreign minister, it will go forward in the coming days and it is also possible it will be ratified by a Security Council resolution (Al-Hayat, January 8).

 However, while Hamas spokesmen are disinclined to accept the Egyptian initiative (See below), on January 10 Hamas sent a delegation to Cairo for another round of talks with Omar Suleiman, head of Egyptian general intelligence. The delegation included Hamas political bureau’s Imad al-Almi and Muhammad Nasr , who were part of the first delegation, and Hamas activists from the Gaza Strip Jamal Abu Hashem and Ayman Taha , who left the Gaza Strip hiding in an ambulance (Egyptian TV website, according to a Hamas police source, January 9, 2009). Eyewitnesses said they saw two other senior Hamas figures who also rode in an ambulance to protect themselves from an IDF attack (ibid.). According to a January 9 Al-Arabiya TV report, Salah Bardawil , Hamas spokesman in the Palestinian Legislative Council, also joined the delegation.

 In the meantime, senior Hamas figures have opposed the Egyptian initiative (as well as Security Council Resolution 1860, see below):

•  Khaled Mashal , head of Hamas’s political bureau in Damascus , said that Resolution 1860 was problematic in that it was passed two weeks after the beginning of the war and did not say when the ceasefire would begin. He repeated Hamas’s demands for an immediate end to the IDF activity ("the aggression”), an immediate withdrawal of IDF forces from the Gaza Strip and the lifting of the "siege” of the Gaza Strip. He added that Hamas would not accept a permanent lull in the fighting because it would prevent the "resistance” (i.e. the continuation of Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel ), and said that Hamas would not agree to the deployment of international forces because they would protect Israeli security and make it difficult for the "resistance” [to operate]. (Hamas would also not agree to reduce the amounts of its weapons and rejected any discussion about preventing their passage through the tunnels, saying it was "the right of the [Palestinian] people to talk with a rifle which they can use to defend themselves” (Syrian Satellite TV, January 10).

•  Musa Abu Marzuq , deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, said that Hamas was "not interested” in Security Council resolutions, but that "the determining factor is what happens on the ground in the Gaza Strip.” He added that no one had consulted Hamas regarding the decision (Resolution 1860), it did not take Hamas’s opinion into consideration and did not relate to the interests of the Palestinian people. He said that " the relevant factors must coordinate and reach conclusions with the factor on the ground [i.e., Hamas], ” and that when the time came, Hamas would negotiate with them. He said that the country directly involved in the decision was Israel , which had been (unequivocally) demanded to halt its fire and rejected the decision (Radio Al-Aqsa, January 9, 2009 ). He told the Jordanian daily newspaper Al-Ghad that there were issues Hamas could not accept, such as "a permanent end to the resistance” [i.e., terrorism], and the deployment of international forces (Al-Ghad, January 10, 2009 ).

•  Other Hamas opinions were the following: Senior Hamas figure Ayman Taha said that Hamas rejected the idea of a "lull for a lull” or an end to the rocket fire because it was like comparing the hangman to the victim (Saudi Arabian daily paper Al-Madinah, January 8, 2009 ). He also said, however, that the Egyptian initiate had positive aspects which could be relied on and that there were a number of issues that had to be deliberated again (BBC, January 10, 2009 ). Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Security Council Resolution 1860 had nothing to do with Hamas because no one had consulted it, and that the resolution was not in the interests of the Palestinians (Al-Jazeera TV, Agence France Presse, January 9, 2009 ). Usama Hamdan , Hamas representative in Lebanon , said that Resolution 1860 had been passed without Hamas involvement and therefore did not commit Hamas to anything (Al-Jazeera TV, January 9, 2009 ).

Sami Abu Zuhri
Sami Abu Zuhri rejects Resolution 1860

(Al-Jazeera TV, January 9, 2009 ).

Other reactions to the Egyptian initiative

 Other reactions to the Egyptian initiative were the following:

•  Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abu al-Gheit , in a joint press conference with the German foreign minister on January 10, said that he was of the opinion that additional meetings would be held in Cairo with the Israelis in the near future. He said that the contacts would lead to a ceasefire, but that Israel would not be able to realize its goal of destroying Hamas. He repeated that no international force would be deployed on Egyptian soil but said he did not reject the possibility of enlarging the number of Egyptian security forces along the Egyptian-Gaza border (Middle East News Agency, January 10, 2009 ).

•  After a meeting with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas told a press conference that "unfortunately,” the Security Council resolution would have "no direct influence.” He said the Egyptian initiative was the way to implement the resolution and that "we can rely on [the Egyptian initiative].” He again demanded the deployment of international forces which would protect the Palestinian people from Israel , both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank . He said he was certain that when the events in the Gaza Strip ended, Hamas would return to the bosom of the Palestinian Authority (Al-Jazeera TV, January 10, 2009 ).

•  On January 8 a signed editorial in the Syrian daily paper Tishrin rejected the Egyptian initiative. "We are not sure the Egyptian initiative in its present form will ensure the withdrawal of the Israeli forces. It also does not ensure the opening of the crossings.” The Egyptian initiative, it said, was nothing more than a humanitarian ceasefire and did not deal with "the factor of Israeli aggression,” did not provide the Palestinians with security, did not return the Israeli army to its previous positions, and did not provide in any way for "the liberation of the [Palestinian] land…” (Tishrin editor Samira al-Muslama, January 8, 2009 ).

Security Council Resolution 1860

 On January 9 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1860 , with 14 votes in favor; the United States preferred to abstain rather than exercise its veto. The resolution’s main points were the following:

•  The preamble emphasizes the importance of the safety and well-being of all civilians and expresses grave concern at the escalation of violence. It does not specifically mention Hamas.

•  Regarding the humanitarian situation , the resolution expresses "grave concern” at the deepening "humanitarian crisis” in the Gaza Strip. It notes the need ensure a sustained and regular flow of goods through the Gaza Strip crossings. It also recognizes the vital role played by UNRWA in providing humanitarian and economic assistance within Gaza .

•  The resolution condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism. It does not specifically refer to Hamas and the other terrorist operatives.

•  Operative articles :

1. Ceasefire : The resolution calls for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire leading to a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza .

2. Distribution of humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip : It calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution throughout Gaza a humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel and medical treatment. It welcomes the initiatives aimed at creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid.

3. The opening of the crossing points : It calls upon Member States to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained reopening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel .

•  The resolution encourages additional initiatives : It calls upon Member States to intensify efforts of provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain, a durable ceasefire and calm, and to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition [the first time the Security Council has related to the issue]. It welcomes the Egyptian initiative and other regional and international efforts that are under way.

Hamas and Israeli responses to the resolution

 In practical terms , the morning after the resolution was passed Hamas continued and intensified its rocket fire into Israel . In addition, Hamas spokesmen were quick to reject it (See below). Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committees spokesmen also expressed their objections to the resolution, making it clear that they would continue their terrorist attacks against Israel . The Popular Resistance Committees announced that the resolution was passed by the Security Council, "an institution which does what the enemies of Allah tell it to…” (PRC-Zakaria Dughmush Network website, January 9). The terrorist response makes the resolution impractical and is in direct opposition to the its central operative article, i.e., a durable ceasefire.

 On January 9 the Ministerial Committee for National Security met to discuss the continuation of Operation Cast Lead and UN Security Council Resolution 1860. The committee announced that since the morning hours Israel had been attacked by terrorist organization rocket fire. It also announced that the State of Israel had the right to defend its civilians, and to that end the IDF would continue operating to achieve the stated objectives, that is, to change the security situation in the southern part of the country, and would do so according to the plans authorized for the operation. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the following in response to Resolution 1860:

"The State of Israel has never agreed that any outside body would determine its right to defend the security of its citizens. The IDF will continue operations in order to defend Israeli citizens and will carry out the missions with which it has been assigned in the operation. This morning’s rocket fire against residents of the south only proves that UN Security Council Resolution 1860 is not practical and will not be honored in actual fact by the Palestinian murder organizations.”

Mahmoud Abbas’s continues as Palestinian Authority chairman

 On January 9, 2009, Mahmoud Abbas’s term of office as chairman of the Palestinian Authority ended. On January 10, Rafiq al-Husseini , Palestinian presidential office chief of staff, held a press conference at the Muqataa in Ramallah, where he announced that Mahmoud Abbas would remain the Palestinian Authority president until elections were held for both the presidency and the Palestinian Legislative Council. He added that anyone who had a complaint could appeal to the Palestinian supreme court, and that it was not the right time to talk about the issue (Ma’an News Agency, January 10, 2009).

 Musa Abu Marzuq , deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, said that Mahmoud Abbas was no longer entitled to the authority previously granted him by Palestinian law because his term of office was over. However, he added that it was "of secondary consideration” and that the main issue was now the events in the Gaza Strip (Al-Aqsa Radio, January 9, 2009). At the end of the news on January 8, Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV reported that the following day Mahmoud Abbas’s two-year term of office would end. According to the report, Aziz Daouk , chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council currently imprisoned in Israel , is expected to be appointed president of the Palestinian Authority for an interim period of 60 days (Al-Aqsa TV, January 8).

The Hamas media functioning

 During the fighting "The Palestinian Information Center” (Palestine-info website) launched a new website called Paltube . It features Hamas propaganda videos and has live broadcasts from Hamas’s Al-Quds TV. It is apparently another Hamas attempt to operate propaganda video website after the failure of Aqsatube (which imitated YouTube).

Hamas and Al-Qaeda

Hamas and Al-Qaeda
From the Paltube homepage: Pictures of a screaming woman, dead children, a screaming man
and a frightened child. Lower left: link to a video of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s deputy.

Video about a "Shaheed” Who Was Killed during Operation Cast Lead

Video about a "Shaheed” Who Was Killed during Operation Cast Lead
From the Paltube homepage: A video inciting violence against Israel (top), another devoted to a "shaheed” from the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades who was killed during Operation Cast Lead (bottom). In general, Hamas does not publicize the details of its operatives killed by the IDF.

 Hamas’s newspaper Felesteen is publishing again. It announced that English and Arabic websites had been launched to collect signatures worldwide against the Israel action. He also called for a boycott of Israeli and American products. The site is run by radical Islamic cleric Awad al-Qarni , who issued a fatwa on December 28 advocating the worldwide murder of Jews in response to the events in the Gaza Strip.

Awadd al-Qarni

  English and Arabic websites had been launched

Awadd al-Qarni, recently advocated killing Jews worldwide in response to the events in the Gaza Strip.

 

The site’s English language homepage. It notes that the commander is Sheikh Awad al-Qarni, anti-Semitic Saudi Arabian cleric hostile to the West.

Responses

Iran

 Demonstrations continued throughout Iran in support of the residents of the Gaza Strip. The demonstrators included students, male and female school children, and others (ISNA News Agency, January 8, 2009). A delegation headed by the chief of the Bureau for Iranian Interests in Egypt visited the wounded Palestinians who had been hospitalized in Cairo (ISNA News Agency, January 9).

Al-Alam TV, January 9, 2009
Iranian demonstration in support of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip

(Al-Alam TV, January 9, 2009).

 The heads of the Iranian government had the following to say:

•  Leader Ali Khamenei said that the main objective of Israel ‘s "crimes” in the Gaza Strip was the total destruction of regional "resistance” [i.e., terrorist organizations]. He said that the countries neighboring the Gaza Strip [i.e., Egypt ] should give it all possible support.

•  President Ahmadinejad condemned the Security Council resolution, saying that the structure of the council and its seat had to be changed in view of the fact that its resolutions were "one-sided and inhuman.” It had become, he said, a tool in the hands of the United States (Islamic Republic News Agency, January 10, 2009).

•  Iranian defense minister Mustafa Mahmoud Najar said that Israel was being badly beaten and humiliated worse in the second Lebanon war. He described the war in the Gaza Strip as a war of "pagans against Muslims,” and appealed to the Muslim world to wake up and defend the residents of the Gaza Strip (Mehr News Agency, January 10, 2009).

•  Iranian parliament chairman Ali Larijani , while visiting Damascus , said he had met with Ahmed Jibril, secretary general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, General Headquarters, and that the resistance of the Gazans had neutralized "the conspiracy of the Zionist regime.” He also said that the Palestinians had no choice but the "resistance” [i.e., terrorism]. He added that despite the fact that geographically the Gaza Strip was small, the war would have a great impact on the fate of the region (ISNA News Agency, January 8, 2009).

•  Head of Iran’s strategic research center Sayid Hassan Ruhani said he was sure Gaza would win and Israel would be defeated. He said that what was currently happening in the Gaza Strip would end with damage to Israel because the issue proved more than ever that Israel was a "malignant growth” in the Middle East (ISNA News Agency, January 9, 2009).

Lebanon

 Lebanese prime minister Fuad Siniora said that Israel was proving every day that it was carrying out acts of terrorism and crimes, as it had in Lebanon in 2006. However, he also said that the past two weeks made it possible to see that as opposed to the Arab world, the Israelis, despite internal differences, were united behind the government (Lebanese News Agency, January 9, 2009).

 Throughout Lebanon demonstrations of solidarity and support for the Gazans continued. At a demonstration marching toward the Egypt embassy in western Beirut , demonstrators carried an effigy of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak bearing a Star of David. Others carried an effigy of defense minister Ehud Barak with Nazi symbols scrawled on his body, and the demonstration ended with burning the effigies (Lebanese News Agency, January 8, 2009).

Sudan

 Tens of thousands of Sudanese held a march to protest the military action in the Gaza Strip. During the march speeches were made and flyers were distributed in support of the Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip; some of the demonstrators carried dummies of rockets. They also shouted slogans against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak (AP, January 8, 2009).

Jordan

 The Jordan foreign minister told Al-Jazeera TV that he resented the fact that the Arab world and the Security Council "had not fulfilled their responsibility to protect human life in the Gaza Strip.” However, he avoided answering when asked if Jordan would recall its ambassador from Israel .

 At the same time, popular public activity continued in Jordan to help the residents of the Gaza Strip (Jordanian News Agency, January 8, 2009):

•  Dozens of popular demonstrations were held throughout Jordan . One was held with the participation of 4,000 second and third grade children from 12 schools in Amman . It went to UNICEF headquarters, where the children transmitted a letter for the UN Secretary General, expressing their anger at the harm the Israelis were causing to children and their schools.

•  A blood drive was held in the city of Kerak for wounded Palestinians. Jordanians also donated the equivalent of a day’s pay for the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Charitable societies and university institutions collected and denoted money and sent trucks carrying equipment. A plane belonging to the royal Jordanian airline took off for El-Arish with medical equipment donated by airline employees.

 After the Friday prayers on January 9, demonstrators left the mosque and marched toward the Israeli embassy in Amman . They were stopped by the Jordan gendarmerie, which surrounded the building (Ammon News Agency, January 9, 2009).

Rocket Fire from Lebanon (update) 1

 Following the rocket fire from the western sector of south Lebanon into the Western Galilee, the Lebanese army and UNIFIL forces increased their security measures in south Lebanon, especially in the area of Tyre and Kharfa, from where the rockets had apparently been launched (FTV, January 8, 2009). Following the rocket fire, a UNIFIL-Lebanese army patrol in the vicinity of the villages of Shuba and Kafr Hamam (in the eastern sector of south Lebanon ) a cache of 34 old rockets (Lebanese News Agency, January 9, 2009).

 The rocket fire led to a wave of reactions:

•  The Lebanese government : Lebanese prime minister Fuad Siniora condemned the rocket fire, saying Lebanon firmly adhered to Security Council Resolution 1701 (Lebanese News Agency, January 9, 2009). A high-ranking source in the Lebanese government said that Lebanon was committed to the ceasefire and it was its intention to discover who was responsible. He also said that it was apparently groups which were "not interested in Lebanese stability.” The Lebanese interior minister rejected the possibility that Hezbollah would relapse into a confrontation with Israel because of the activity in the Gaza Strip. He said that any decision to widen the confrontation would be made by Lebanese government (Lebanese News Agency, January 8). The Lebanese government held an unscheduled meeting, and after it announced the need for a united front to avoid dragging Lebanon into a confrontation with Israel (Al-Nahar, January 9, 2009).

•  Hezbollah : Elements within the organization were quick to deny a connection to the rocket fire. A senior source said that Hezbollah would make its response known at a time it decided. He said that an announcement from the Lebanese government was sufficient (Al-Nishra, January 8, 2009). A senior Hezbollah figure hinted that the groups which had attacked UNIFIL forces were the same that had launched the rockets. He said that Hezbollah deployment since the beginning of Operation Cast Lead was defensive and not offensive.

•  Hamas : Rafat Mara , responsible for Hamas propaganda in Lebanon , said that the movement was not behind the rocket fire from Lebanon and that Hamas did not use "Arab territory” but operated only within the boundaries of " Palestine ” (Agence France Presse, January 8, 2009).

•  Lebanese civilians : Many Lebanese surfers visited various Internet forums to express their anger about the rocket fire into northern Israel , and mostly blamed the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command.

•  International reactions : An American State Department spokesman condemned the rocket fire, clearly stating that it was a grave violation of Security Council Resolution 1701. The UN Secretary General condemned the fire and asked both sides to restrain themselves (UN website, January 9, 2009). A spokesman for the French foreign ministry condemned the rocket fire and called on both sides to support the activities of UNIFIL and to make a maximum effort to prevent an increase of violence in the region, including activities which were liable to endanger Lebanon ‘s stability (French foreign ministry website, January 9, 2009). The French foreign minister said that in his estimation Hezbollah had not fired the rockets, and that it was apparently an attempt at provocation carried out by extremists (Agence France Presse, January 9, 2009).

Appendix

Hamas Continues Making Massive Use of the Civilian
Population as Human Shields and Harming It
(Update, January 10)

Overview

 As the fighting in the Gaza Strip continues, more and more examples make themselves known of the massive use made by Hamas of the tactic of using the civilian population as human shields. 2 The following have been reported by IDF forces fighting in the field, as well as by the Palestinian media.

Hamas sketch of hidden IEDs

 Brigadier General Yuval Halamish, chief intelligence officer, revealed a Hamas sketch seized during IDF activity in the northern Gaza Strip. It shows the deployment of IEDs and Hamas forces in the Al-Atatra neighborhood in northern Gaza City (one of the terrorist organizations’ preferred sites from which to fire rockets into Israel ). It notes the exact placing of IEDs and firing posts in a crowded neighborhood in the heart of the civilian population.

Hamas sketch (IDF Spokesman, January 8, 2009).
Hamas sketch (IDF Spokesman, January 8, 2009).

 According to the sketch, Hamas divided the neighborhood into three fighting zones and marked them in blue, red and green. There are various types of IEDs noted in each area: belly charges, booby-trapped barrels, side bombs, anti-personnel and anti-tank IEDs, all dispersed throughout the neighborhood. The sketch clearly shows that Hamas places IEDs in civilian sites and houses . For example, it shows a gas facility next to which an IED has been placed. It also shows the Al-Tawil mosque, where a sniper post was set up at the entrance . Similar posts can be seen at nearby mosques as well. The entrances to residential buildings which have been booby-trapped are marked on the sketch. Those in Hamas who planned the defense of the neighborhood must have been aware that if the IEDs were detonated to attack IDF forces, the civilian population’s lives would be at risk. Brigadier General Halamish added that Hamas prevented civilians from seeing the warning flyers distributed by the IDF which warn them to evacuate their houses .

Hamas Attempts to Disrupt the Pause Designated for
the Humanitarian Corridor

 Hamas, which wants to market the humanitarian problem in the Gaza Strip to the world at the expense of the suffering of the civilian population, tries to disrupt the humanitarian corridor. Hamas and other terrorist organization operatives told the Gazans that it was an Israeli "plot” and warned them not to leave their houses because Israelis would shoot and kill them. When the Palestinians did leave their houses to stock up on necessities, Hamas spread false rumors about "Israeli fire” and Palestinians who had "been killed.” At the same time, Hamas does not respect the ceasefire and continues attacking IDF forces during the pauses, more than once firing rockets into Israeli territory.

IEDs Discovered in Civilian Houses

 During the ground operation IDF forces uncovered dozens of IEDs and booby traps, including a mannequin which would explode when touched.

(IDF Spokesman, January 7, 2009).

Left to right: A large booby-trapped mannequin, a camouflaged IED, and a detonator
(IDF Spokesman, January 7, 2009).

Fire from a School

 On January 9 the Israeli Air Force attacked a Hamas mortar shell launcher in a school yard which had been used to attack IDF forces during the three-hour humanitarian corridor (IDF Spokesman, January 9, 2009).

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Hamas Commandeers Donations of Flour

 Reports have been received that Hamas groups have commandeered donations of food which have been delivered to the Gaza Strip during Operation Cast Lead, especially flour, and has been selling them at inflated prices.

 On January 11 surfers on a Hamas forum complained that in Dir al-Balah Hamas groups had commandeered the donations of flour. According to the surfers, Hamas transfers the flour to its own warehouses and parcels it out to the Al-Bana and Al-Salah charitable society, both of which it owns.

Hamas forum
Hamas forum: Hamas operatives commandeer flour meant for civilians.

Hamas Activists Travel to Egypt in Ambulances

 Two Hamas activists from the Gaza Strip, Jamal Abu Hashem and Ayman Taha , who participated in the talks in Egypt , left the Gaza Strip hiding in an ambulance. Eyewitnesses said they saw two other senior Hamas figures who also rode in an ambulance to protect themselves from an IDF attack (Egyptian TV website, according to a Hamas police source, January 9, 2009).

 It was not the first time Hamas terrorist operatives used civilian ambulances, including those belonging to UNRWA, to transfer armed operatives from the battlefield. 3


1 Update of our January 8 Bulletin "Rockets hit Western Galilee , initial report,” at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/ipc_e008.pdf .

2 For further information see our date Bulletin entitled "Hamas Exploitation of Civilians as Human Shields” at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e028.pdf .

3 For more details about the use terrorists make of ambulances, see our January 6 Bulletin entitled "Hamas Exploitation of Civilians as Human Shields” at http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e028.pdf .