Posts Tagged Salaam Fayyad

World’s gone mad and it don’t seem right

I sleep in a little on one Sunday morning and everything’s gone crazy.

1. Vandalising in the name of “social justice”

From what I gather, some of the “social justice protesters” in Tel Aviv from last year tried to put up tents in Rothschild Blvd again, but were arrested as the government didn’t want the whole of central Tel Aviv to shut down for a second year in a row. This sparked a whole new protest, which blocked Ibn Gvirol and marched south, joining-up with some kind of anti-homophobia protest.

At some point, the whole thing went out of control and the protesters started just smashing things. The police responded with what has been alleged to have been “police brutality”. It’s hard to tell either way, but I can say this: breaking into and smashing-up banks is not a good way to defend “social justice” or to get any kind of point across.

Haaretz report HERE, more photos HERE.

2. Flare-up around Gaza

There has been another of what are becoming routine flare-ups in violence around the border between Gaza and Israel. Jerusalem Post reporter Yaakov Katz even argues that this one is half-hearted compared to the last ones.

It is a very sad state-of-affairs that this kind of language can be used about an incident that has killed 14 Palestinians so far and has forced a million Israelis to be living in bomb shelters for a week, with rockets seriously damaging a school in Sderot, amongst other things.

However, I have heard reports privately that the IDF General Staff has been pulling all-night meetings and could be planning another large-scale Gaza incursion. That is not going to be fun for anyone, but may be necessary in order to stop these perpetual flare-ups. I’m not sure which is the bigger evil, in all honesty.

That brings me to…

3. Third Intifada

Nathan Thrall argued in the New York Times Sunday Review that a third intifada is inevitable. For some reason, this was released online on Friday, but it has caused a stir amongst a lot of analysts who accuse Thrall of actually supporting the idea.

One point that has been repeatedly made is that another intifada would pose little real threat to Israel, but could well unseat the current Palestinian leadership (not a bad outcome IMO). Fatah and Hamas know this, so they have been doing everything they can to avoid it and to keep their peoples’ attention on Israel.

There also seems to be a threat from within that is coming to unseat Mahmoud Abbas – Salaam Fayyad has just announced that he may challenge the Palestinian Authority presidency in the event that elections ever actually happen.

4. Egypt: the tale of two presidents

The results of Egypt’s presidential elections are rumoured to be coming any minute. This has not prevented both candidates announcing victory and the supporters of both holding huge, angry riots against each other.

Essentially, the country is polarised. Half hate the old regime candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, and half hate the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed  Moursi. Whoever wins, there will be mass dissatisfaction and possibly violence.

5. And the rest

I’m getting a little tired of writing out these short summaries, so to conclude: Sudan is exploding and Turkey is about to go to war with Syria over what was probably a stunt to prevent further Syrian airforce pilots defecting (shooting down a plane is a good way to do it).

Gotta love the Middle East.

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Terrorism, reprisals, civilian casualties: here we go again?

I woke up this morning to the following news:

Deadly bombing the first in Israel in seven years | The Australian

JERUSALEM suffered its first bombing in seven years today when an explosive device hidden in a shopping bag blew up at a bus station during the rush hour, killing one woman and wounding 30.

…Shattered glass from the windows of the bus were strewn across the pavement, which was scorched and smeared with blood.

The attack comes after a fortnight of rising tensions in the Palestinian territories that culminated in a series of military strikes on Gaza.

The group believed to be behind the attack is the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad, an Al-Qaeda affiliated group that takes a more militant stance than Hamas, which has been moderated recently by responsibility. The attack coincided with renewed rocket strikes and was probably in retaliation to a recent Israeli strike that took-out some PIJ leaders:

Analysis: A war on multiple fronts|The Jerusalem Post.

The attack which rocked the entrance to the capital on Wednesday morning came just hours after two Grad-model Katyusha rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed in Beersheba and another hit south of Ashkelon.

Islamic Jihad had vowed to retaliate against an air strike on Tuesday which killed four of its senior operatives.

This is an absolutely disgusting and inexcusable act, but there has been a whole build-up to this. I know that I’ve been MIA for a few days, but if I had more time to write, I would have been writing about the escalating tensions in this conflict.

Of course, Israel’s strike that killed four militants did not just kill four militants, unfortunately:

GAZA STRIP: Israel tank shells kill three Gaza children, one man | Babylon & Beyond | Los Angeles Times

Several Israeli tank shells landed Tuesday at a playground in Gaza City, killing three children and their grandfather and injuring 12 other children and women, hospital sources and witnesses said.

Eyewitnesses said that seven tank shells slammed a playground where children were playing soccer, adding two other shells crashed through the ceiling of a nearby house, injuring six women.

Relatives of those killed said they prevented a group of Palestinian militants from firing mortars into Israel from an area that is adjacent to their houses just half an hour before Israeli tanks fired the shells.

But militants waited until people went for prayers at the neighborhood’s mosque and sent a round of mortar shells beyond the Israel-Gaza borderline, which is a little less than half a mile away from the bombed area.

Although that story does not exactly exonerate PIJ from the killings either.

And then there’s the Itamar massacre on the weekend, which was a complete act of brutality that saw a family literally butchered in their own home:

Immoral equivalencies| The Jerusalem Post.

On March 11, five members of the Fogel family were hideously knifed in their own home at Itamar – the parents Udi and Ruth, 11-year-old Yoav, three-year-old Elad and three-month-old Hadas. The throats of Udi, Yoav and tiny Hadas were slit in their beds. Elad suffered two stab wounds to his heart.

This was anything but a chance mishap.

This was premeditated, beyond cold-hearted.

The homicides were the handiwork of terrorists who encountered their blameless victims face-to-face and, with malice aforethought, did not shrink from piercing an infant’s neck.

The other piece of the puzzle from Israel’s perspective is a sudden and massive increase in rocket fire from Gaza.

Israeli Attack on Gaza Militants Kills Four Civilians – NYTimes.com

Tuesday’s violence came amid a sharp increase in tensions along the Israel-Gaza border in recent days. Hamas has fired more than 60 rockets at Israel since Saturday, and Israeli warplanes and artillery units have carried out repeated attacks. Both sides claim they are retaliating and not seeking an escalation in the conflict, but fears of a repeat of the Israeli war here two years ago were palpable.

And there’s truth to that “tit-for-tat” statement, both sides have been escalating this situation whilst simultaneously calling for the other to stop. It’s like a retarded game of chicken where everyone loses.

Hamas has committed to keeping the truce, but admitted that it voluntarily increased rocket fire:

Hamas repeats commitment to keep unofficial truce

Abu Obaida, spokesman for the armed wing of Hamas, said: “If the enemy agrees to avoid escalation and stop the aggression on our people, Hamas will also abide [by the truce].”

He confirmed that Hamas was behind last Saturday’s barrage of mortar attacks on Israel. He claimed that the attacks were a “natural response to the ongoing crimes of the Zionist enemy.”

Abu Obaida said that the attacks came in response to the recent killing by the IDF of Ghassan Abu Amer and Adnan Ishtawi, two Hamas activists.

“The enemy will pay a heavy price if it continues its aggression on the Gaza Strip,” the spokesman cautioned.

And then Israel has re-iterated that it will hold Hamas responsible for every attack:

In Response to Rocket Fire IAF Targets Terror Sites in Gaza Strip

The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians or IDF soldiers, and will continue to respond harshly to combat terror. The IDF holds the Hamas terrorist organization solely responsible for maintaining the calm in the Gaza Strip and for any terrorist activity emanating from it.

This may not be entirely fair, as it is not clear how much control Hamas has over PIJ. In fact, there have been reports that Hamas is trying to reduce their activity:

MESS Report-Israel News – Haaretz Israeli News source.

It is noteworthy that Hamas has not fired at Israel over the past two days, even after four Palestinian civilians were killed by errant IDF mortar fire on Tuesday.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s office said yesterday that Haniyeh had phoned the secretary general of Islamic Jihad, Abdallah Ramadan Salah, in Damascus. Pundits in Gaza said Haniyeh asked Salah to stop the escalation, for which Islamic Jihad is mainly responsible.

Although Hamas didn’t exactly seem bothered by the attack in Jerusalem, which luckily the PA at least condemned:

J’lem bombing is a ‘natural response to Israeli crimes| The Jerusalem Post.

PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in a statement that he “strongly condemns the terror attack in Jerusalem regardless of the identity of the perpetrators.”

Referring to the possibility that Palestinians were behind the attack, Fayyad said it would it be despicable if any Palestinian party was involved, especially in light of the huge damage that such attacks have inflicted on the Palestinians in the past.

Hamas representatives in the Gaza Strip hailed the attack as a “natural response to Israeli crimes against Palestinians.”

The big worry here is that the situation will return to 2007/08 levels, which Israel managed to repair only through a huge military operation. Hopefulyl the sides will see sense, but this has been coming for a while.

There is a whole other side to the past week, which is the games being played between the PA and Hamas, as well as a few settlement issues that were overshadowed by all this violence. This post is getting too long, so you can look forward to that tomorrow.

 

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