Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israel’s attacks on Gaza continue, with another Hamas leader killed and mounting concern about civilian suffering (1, 2, 3, 4). Efforts in the Arab world to blame Egypt for the conflict continue to gain ground (5, 6, 7). Raghida Dergham argues that Israel and Hamas need to be saved from their own errors and Roula Khalaf calls for a new Palestinian peace strategy, while Yossi Alpher says Israel has no strategic options (8, 10, 11). Patrick Seale says the war is “political insanity” for Israel, and Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed asks how Hamas can claim to be surprised at Israel’s behavior (9, 12).

Israel kills third Hamas leader since start of Gaza offensive
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Yoav Stern - January 3, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel Air Force warplanes stepped up airstrikes on the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday, bombing more than 40 Hamas targets over the course of the day and killing the third senior Hamas official since Israel's aerial assault began last Saturday. Abu Zakaria al-Jamal, a commander of the Hamas armed wing, died of wounds sustained in an airstrike overnight. On Saturday morning, Israel Radio quoted a spokesman for the Hamas military wing as saying it had repelled an attempt by Israel Defense Forces soldiers to infiltrate the Shajaiyeh section of Gaza City.

'Critical emergency' after air strike every 20 minutes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Rory McCarthy - January 3, 2009 - 1:00am

for the Middle East, blamed the conflict on "the irresponsibility of Hamas rocket attacks and the excessiveness of Israel's response". He said a ceasefire was needed to halt the violence but added: "We must create new conditions on the ground to ensure this does not happen again."

Israel aims to cripple Hamas, warn other foes: experts
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
January 3, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel has thousands of troops massed for a ground offensive on Gaza that would aim to deal a hammer blow to Hamas and re-establish Israel's military credentials with its other foes, experts said. After Israel's 2006 war in Lebanon, widely condemned as a fiasco, this campaign has been scrupulously prepared and few experts believe Hamas can halt the waiting army. The number of troops and tanks along the 60 kilometre (37 mile) border is a military secret but Israeli leaders say the force is ready and local media say the assault is imminent.

Diplomats consider international force to monitor any cease-fire in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from McClatchy News
by Dion Nissenbaum, Warren P. Strobel - January 2, 2009 - 1:00am

After a week of Israeli bombardment of the Gaza strip, Israel, Arab countries and the United States are discussing how to create an international force that would safeguard an eventual cease-fire, diplomats said Friday. A key part of the arrangement, they said, is that the main Palestinian rival to the ruling Hamas party would be asked to take charge of border crossings.

Egypt Pressed on Gaza From Without and Within
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Steven Erlanger - January 3, 2009 - 1:00am

Egypt is the crucial, if reluctant, intermediary between Israel and Hamas, which is no great friend of this moderate secular government. Still, a sustained Israeli ground operation in neighboring Gaza would sharply increase public pressure on President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to do more to help the Palestinians there.

Arabs turn on Egypt for collusion over siege
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Heba Saleh - December 29, 2008 - 1:00am

Tens of thousands of Arabs took to the streets for the second day on Monday to protest against Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza as a huge wave of anger spreads across the Middle East. But it is not just the Jewish state that is being lambasted, as Egypt increasingly finds itself the target of people’s fury with accusations that Cairo has colluded with Israel in its siege.

Arabs increasingly accuse Egypt of being complicit in Israel's war on Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Inter Press Service (IPS)
January 3, 2009 - 1:00am

As the Palestinian death toll pushes past 420, much of popular anger throughout the Arab world has been directed at Egypt - seen by many as complicit in the Israeli campaign. "Israel would not have hit Gaza like this without a green light from Egypt," Hamdi Hassan, MP for the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition movement, told IPS. "The Egyptian government allowed this assault on Gaza in hopes of finishing off Hamas."

Arab and International Efforts Needed to Save Israel and Hamas from Their Predicament
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Raghida Dergham - (Opinion) January 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel and Hamas have set traps for themselves and for each other; these traps will bring about dangerous repercussions as the escalation in Gaza lacks a clear-cut objective and an exit strategy. Both sides need help to escape this predicament. Otherwise, their recklessness will entail further loss of innocent lives as well as loose wars and catastrophic measures that must be prohibited. Neither Hamas nor Israel is going to win this war. Gaza's women and children and the innocent civilians on both sides will be the sole losers.

Israel's Insane War in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Patrick Seale - (Opinion) January 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel's war in Gaza is an act of political insanity. It is the product of a deeply disturbed society, able neither to curb its military arrogance nor calm its profound paranoia. The consequences are likely to be painful for Israel's long-term prospects. By radicalising the Palestinians, and by arousing great anger in the Arab and Muslim world, this savage war rules out the possibility of Israel's peaceful integration in the region for the foreseeable future. That may even be its cynical aim, since Israel wants dominance, not peaceful coexistence.

No solution without a Palestinian peace plan
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Financial Times
by Roula Khalaf - January 1, 2009 - 1:00am

The residents of Gaza saw in the new year with more Israeli air strikes and the prospect of an imminent ground offensive. Unlike other wars, where populations run out of the conflict zone and refugee crises develop, Gazans have nowhere to go. Long before Israel’s latest offensive, the strip had been locked up from all sides, with no access to the outside world. Six days into the Gaza operation it is already looking like another mindless war, from which no one can emerge a winner. Israel has destroyed a good part of the Hamas infrastructure – it may, in fact, be running out of targets.

Israel has no real strategy to deal with Hamas
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Bitterlemons
by Yossi Alpher - (Opinion) January 3, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel has opted to launch a major attack on Hamas in Gaza. The idea appears to be to use heavy military force, primarily from the air, but with a limited objective: to weaken Hamas to a point where it returns to a cease-fire on conditions congenial to Israel. The opening conditions were favorable from Israel's standpoint: It achieved tactical surprise in launching a Sabbath attack while much of the world was busy with Christmas and New Year celebrations.

How Did Hamas Fail to Anticipate This?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed - (Opinion) January 2, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas claims that it was surprised by the [Israeli] attack and the Israelis boast that they win battles by using the element of surprise. An Arab minister said that he was actually used to deliver a false message without being aware of what he was doing, and reassured Hamas that Israel was not planning to wage an attack against it. Accordingly, Hamas elements felt at ease and continued to deliver speeches and fire missiles that target nothing but farms and unpopulated areas.

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