Middle East News: World Press Roundup

The Israeli offensive in Gaza continues, in spite of efforts to find a ceasefire (1, 2). Palestinian civilian suffering is examined in numerous harrowing accounts, and the BBC asks, who is a civilian in this conflict (3, 4, 5, 6). Ha’aretz looks at how much time Israel has to continue its offensive, and American papers examine the role of the change in American administrations in the timing and conduct of the attack (7, 8, 9). Obama advisor Dennis Ross gives his views on a ceasefire (10). Al Jazeera critiques US media coverage of the conflict, while the Observer examines Israel’s media strategy (11, 12). Ephraim Sneh makes the case for the Israeli action and terms of a workable ceasefire, while Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed and the National question the political effects of the attack (13, 14, 15). An article posted on the official English-language website of the Muslim Brotherhood movement asserts that Hamas would welcome being freed from "the burden of government" (16).

Israel tightens grip on Gaza, fights off ceasefire pressure
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Agence France Presse (AFP)
January 5, 2009 - 1:00am

GAZA CITY (AFP) — Israeli warplanes carried out intensive raids on Hamas targets on Monday as ground troops surrounded Gaza's main city, while Israel faced mounting diplomatic pressure for a ceasefire. The senior Hamas leader in Gaza promised "victory is coming" for the Islamist group, but Israel's defence minister said "we have hit Hamas hard" while insisting the operation to halt Hamas rocket attacks would continue.

Hamas 'to attend' Cairo truce talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
January 5, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, has announced it will send a delegation to Egypt for ceasefire negotiations as diplomatic efforts to end the fighting in Gaza intensified. Ayman Taha, a Hamas official told the Reuters news agency on Monday that a group would head to Cairo "answering an Egyptian invitation to hold discussions". Taha did not say whether the delegation would include Hamas members from Gaza or exiled leaders.

For Trapped Gazans, Few Options for Safety
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Reyham Abdel Kareem, Craig Whitlock - January 5, 2009 - 1:00am

As Israeli forces attacked Gaza by land, sea and air, residents living in the congested coastal strip faced a fateful question: Flee the shelling and shooting, or hole up inside their homes and hope for the best? The five-member al-Jarou family decided to make a break for it around midday Sunday. They abandoned their home in the Shaaf neighborhood east of Gaza City and dashed by car to a relative's house a mile and a half away, thinking it would be safer, according to interviews with family members and neighbors.

Gaza City residents hunker down
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Rushdi Abu Alouf, Richard Boudreaux - January 5, 2009 - 1:00am

Reporting from Gaza City and Jerusalem -- As Israeli forces closed in on Gaza City, Mohammed Barbari joined the scramble by its most intrepid residents Sunday for dwindling supplies of food they would need while hunkering down at home. The first explosion tore through the central Firas Market at 11:30 a.m. as he approached from adjacent Palestine Square. Unable to turn his yellow Volkswagen Golf around in traffic, he kept driving toward the hail of shrapnel and the screams of scattering shoppers.

Wounded Gaza family lay bleeding for 20 hours
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amira Hass - January 5, 2009 - 1:00am

Three hours after the Israel Defense Forces began their ground operation in the Gaza Strip, at about 10:30 P.M. Saturday night, a shell or missile hit the house owned by Hussein al A'aiedy and his brothers. Twenty-one people live in the isolated house, located in an agricultural area east of Gaza City's Zeitoun neighborhood. Five of them were wounded in the strike: Two women in their eighties (his mother and aunt), his 14-year-old son, his 13-year-old niece and his 10-year-old nephew.

Gaza conflict: Who is a civilian?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from BBC News
by Heather Sharp - January 5, 2009 - 1:00am

The bloodied children are clearly civilians; men killed as they launch rockets are undisputedly not. But what about the 40 or so young Hamas police recruits on parade who died in the first wave of Israel's bombing campaign in Gaza? And weapons caches are clearly military sites – but what about the interior ministry, hit in a strike that killed two medical workers; or the money changer's office, destroyed last week injuring a boy living on the floor above?

How much time is left for the IDF to operate in Gaza?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff - January 5, 2009 - 1:00am

The eastern outskirts of Gaza City was where the Israel Defense Forces encountered the most serious resistance yet since the Gaza ground incursion began Saturday. Troops who raided the home of a Hamas man in the area Sunday discovered that the house served as cover for the entrance of no fewer than three underground tunnels, from which Hamas gunmen fled to nearby houses and fired.

Israel Strikes Before an Ally Departs
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Scott Shane - January 4, 2009 - 1:00am

For nine days, as European and United Nations officials have called urgently for a cease-fire in Gaza, the Bush administration has squarely blamed the rocket attacks of the Palestinian militant group Hamas for Israel’s assault, maintaining to the end its eight-year record of stalwart support for Israel. Mr. Bush, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, said the United States did not want a “one-way cease-fire” that allowed Hamas to keep up its rocket fire, and Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday echoed the point, declaring that only a “sustainable, durable” peace would be acceptable.

Invasion of Gaza by Israel comes at delicate time for Washington
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
January 5, 2009 - 1:00am

Reporting from Washington -- Israel's ground invasion of the Gaza Strip has abruptly increased the stakes for Washington at an awkward moment when President Bush's power is ebbing and his successor is choosing to remain on the sidelines. The ground assault that began Saturday raises the chances of a sharp increase in casualties, perhaps on both sides, that would heighten international pressure on the United States to intervene in an attempt to end the conflict. World powers are already clamoring for Washington to play its traditional lead role in finding a way out of the crisis.

Ross: Hamas cannot be allowed to rebuild
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA)
January 4, 2009 - 1:00am

Dennis Ross said the United States should back a cease-fire in Gaza only if it ensures that Hamas "can't rebuild." "We want some stability," said Ross, a former top Middle East negotiator in the Clinton administration, in a talk at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, Md. "If Hamas is left with the capability to rearm," he said, then the current conflict will have been "just a prelude" to the next round. He hoped that some sort of "enforcement mechanisms" to restrain the terrorist group could be developed in any kind of truce.

In the US, Gaza is a different war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
by Habib Battah - January 5, 2009 - 1:00am

The images of two women on the front page of an edition of The Washington Post last week illustrates how mainstream US media has been reporting Israel's war on Gaza. On the left was a Palestinian mother who had lost five children. On the right was a nearly equally sized picture of an Israeli woman who was distressed by the fighting, according to the caption. As the Palestinian woman cradled the dead body of one child, another infant son, his face blackened and disfigured with bruises, cried beside her. The Israeli woman did not appear to be wounded in any way but also wept.

Why Israel went to war in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Chris McGreal - January 4, 2009 - 1:00am

It is a war on two fronts. Months ago, as Israel prepared to unleash its latest wave of desolation against Gaza, it recognised that blasting Hamas and "the infrastructure of terror", which includes police stations, homes and mosques, was a straightforward task.

Why Israel Is Bombing Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Ephraim Sneh - January 1, 2009 - 1:00am

When demands are made of Israel to halt its military activities in Gaza, a brief historical reminder is in order. In September 2005, Israel vacated Gaza, dismantled all the settlements in the Gaza Strip and did not leave a shred of a presence there.

Righting a Wrong for the Sake of the People of Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed - January 5, 2009 - 1:00am

There is a clear difference between the 1.5 million people that make up the population of the Gaza Strip, and the few hundred which comprise the leadership and activists which fill the Hamas movement's ranks. Whatever differences one might have with the movement, one must realize that Gaza is not Hamas; and that the Gaza Strip is not owned by the Hamas movement, and its people are not Hamas soldiers, yet it is being punished in place of the movement.

Will Israel never learn from its mistakes?
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
January 5, 2009 - 1:00am

The Israeli military’s ground incursion into the Gaza Strip is a tragic but unsurprising development in the current conflict, with the ostensible goal of stopping the rocket fire into Israel. An aerial bombardment was never going to be enough to eliminate the highly mobile rocket teams employed by Hamas and other militant groups based in Gaza. But because the escalation of violence was so readily apparent, the continued refusal of the United States to allow a UN Security Council mandated ceasefire to pass is inexcusable.

Reflections on the Israeli holocaust in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from IkhwanWeb
January 3, 2009 - 1:00am

The virtual holocaust Israel is now waging against the Gaza Strip is taking its toll on innocent civilians. The shocking scenes speak for themselves. The gruesomeness transcends reality; it exceeds by far the most eloquent of words. Gaza-2008-9 is very much like Dresden-1945. And as Dresden was annihilated by the RAF toward the end of the Second World War, the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza are being decapitated and thoroughly terrorized by the Israeli army, the Wehrmacht of our time.

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