Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Two rockets fired from Lebanon land in northern Israel, as the IDF responds with artillery shells (1) (2). Fear of an Israeli offensive in the southern Gaza town of Rafah looms despite continued talk of a cease fire (3). An analysis by Allistair Lyon examines what the Gaza crisis means for the upcoming expiration of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ term in office (6). A pair of articles in the Los Angeles Times discuss the differences between the Arab and Israeli media portrayal of the conflict (9) (10). An op-ed by Rashid Khalidi in the New York Times offers a crash course on the Gaza strip and its people (12). In an op-ed for The Washington Post President Jimmy Carter delivers his assessment of the situation (14).

At least two Lebanon rockets hit north Israel; Hezbollah denies involvment
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Jack Khoury - January 8, 2009 - 1:00am

At least two Katyusha rockets fired from south Lebanon exploded in northern Israel on Thursday morning, leaving two people lightly wounded and a number of others suffering from shock. The rockets struck the Nahariya area at around 8 A.M., one of them scoring a direct hit on the roof a nursing home in the city. A Hezbollah minister in Lebanon's Cabinet has denied any involvement by the militant group in the firing of the rockets. In 2006, Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon fired almost 4000 rockets at Israel during the Second Lebanon War.

Updated: Lebanon-Israeli Border Heats Up After Rockets, Mortars Fly
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Daily Star
by Andrew Wander - January 8, 2009 - 1:00am

At least three rockets were fired into northern Israel from Lebanon on Thursday, prompting the Jewish state to lob several mortars at the town of Tair Harfa. Katyusha rockets landed in the Nahariya area of Israel, slightly wounding two people according to Israeli officials. Israel hit back by firing five mortar shells across the border. There were no reported casualties.

Rafah offensive looms despite ceasefire talks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Mitchell Prothero - January 7, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli planes dropped leaflets over the Rafah refugee camp last night warning residents within two kilometres of the Egyptian border to flee their homes by eight this morning in anticipation of a massive armoured invasion, said residents, who began to leave immediately. The threat came at about the same time as an announcement that Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials – who do not represent the Hamas militants – appeared to agree to an Egyptian-French proposal for a ceasefire to end the 12-day conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Grief and Rage at Stricken Gaza School
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Taghreed El-Khodary - January 7, 2009 - 1:00am

The bodies of the children who died outside the United Nations school here were laid out in a long row on the ground. Some were wrapped in the vivid green flag of Hamas, some were in white shrouds, and some were in the yellow flag of Fatah, which is rarely seen these days in Hamas-run Gaza. Hundreds of Gazans crowded around, staring at the little faces, some of them with dark eyes still open, but dulled.

Red Cross Reports Grisly Find in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Craig Whitlock, Griff Witte - January 8, 2009 - 1:00am

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that it had found at least 15 bodies and several children -- emaciated but alive -- in a row of shattered houses in the Gaza Strip, and officials with the agency accused the Israeli military of preventing ambulances from reaching the bombed-out site for four days.

ANALYSIS-Gaza crisis defers dispute over Abbas presidency
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Alistair Lyon - January 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose original four-year term expires on Friday, faces a legitimacy challenge that Israel's Gaza war has only postponed. How it plays out will affect Abbas's ability to pursue peace talks with Israel. These have so far proved fruitless, earning him only derision from Hamas, which preaches armed resistance. The Israeli onslaught on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has temporarily eclipsed the dispute between Abbas's secular Fatah faction and its Islamist rivals over whether he must quit now.

Gaza War Role Is Political Lift for Ex-Premier
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - January 7, 2009 - 1:00am

A few weeks ago, Defense Minister Ehud Barak was considered a dead man walking in Israeli politics. Members of his Labor Party were plotting to replace him after elections on Feb. 10, if not before. Under his leadership, the storied party of David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir had sunk so low in the polls that there was serious talk it might disappear.

Nothing accidental about attack on school
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
by Craig Nelson - January 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Israeli intelligence officers call it “mowing the grass”; the continual trimming of the ranks of Palestinian militants and activists to keep the populace from getting out of control. The truth about the events that led to the deaths of at least 39 people at the United Nations Al Fakhoura school in Gaza will have to wait until the end of the war and investigations by organisations with no stake in the conflict.

Israeli media focus on Hamas rockets, keep gore to a minimum
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Ashraf Khalil, Batsheva Sobelman - January 8, 2009 - 1:00am

There's no visceral wartime imagery; details on injured Israeli soldiers are handled delicately. Bloody scenes such as the carnage after Tuesday's shelling of a U.N. school in the Gaza Strip appear only in snippets, and often in the context of analysis as to how the world will react. There is, however, round-the-clock coverage of the Israeli south, where rockets fired by Gazan militants have killed three Israeli civilians and injured dozens since the conflict began Dec. 27.

Arab media portray Palestinians as courageous victims
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Jeffrey Fleishman, Raed Rafei - January 8, 2009 - 1:00am

Face splotched in blood, eyes closed, mouth aslant, the child seems to be slumbering, but she is dead. The only part of her you see is her head tilting in ash and rubble above the caption, "A day of massacres in Gaza."

Israel's PR war
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Gideon Lichfield - (Opinion) January 8, 2009 - 1:00am

It had to happen at some point. The army attacks a civilian building identified as a source of fire; dozens of civilians are killed, and what little sympathy Israel enjoyed in whatever war it's currently fighting evaporates. It happened in Qana during the Second Lebanon War, and yesterday a school in the Jabalya refugee camp became a global symbol of indiscriminate Israeli aggression.

What You Don’t Know About Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Rashid Khalidi - January 7, 2009 - 1:00am

NEARLY everything you’ve been led to believe about Gaza is wrong. Below are a few essential points that seem to be missing from the conversation, much of which has taken place in the press, about Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip. THE GAZANS Most of the people living in Gaza are not there by choice. The majority of the 1.5 million people crammed into the roughly 140 square miles of the Gaza Strip belong to families that came from towns and villages outside Gaza like Ashkelon and Beersheba. They were driven to Gaza by the Israeli Army in 1948.

The Gaza Boomerang
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Nicholas D. Kristof - (Opinion) January 7, 2009 - 1:00am

At a time when Israel is bombing Gaza to try to smash Hamas, it’s worth remembering that Israel itself helped nurture Hamas. When Hamas was founded in 1987, Israel was mostly concerned with Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement and figured that a religious Palestinian organization would help undermine Fatah. Israel calculated that all those Muslim fundamentalists would spend their time praying in the mosques, so it cracked down on Fatah and allowed Hamas to rise as a counterforce.

An Unnecessary War
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Jimmy Carter - (Opinion) January 8, 2009 - 1:00am

I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided.

AP Gaza reporter finds hometown in rubble
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Ibrahim Barzak - January 7, 2009 - 1:00am

I live alone in my office. My wife and two young children moved in with her father after our apartment was shattered. The neighborhood mosque, where I have prayed since I was a child, had its roof blown off. All the government buildings on my beat have been obliterated. After days of Israeli shelling, the city and life I have known no longer exist.

The Gaza blame game
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Rosa Brooks - (Opinion) January 8, 2009 - 1:00am

How to be stupid . . . . . . Hamas style Refuse to recognize Israel. Remind the world that the establishment of Israel in 1948 was accompanied by the often violent displacement of 700,000 Palestinians, but ignore the fact that more than 60 years have gone by, making it a bit late for a do-over. Ignore the fact that most Israelis weren't even born in 1948, and that Israel is recognized as legitimate by an overwhelming majority of the world's states. Keep insisting on its destruction.

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