Middle East News: World Press Roundup

Israeli troops move out of the interior of Gaza (1), (2). Control of the strip is now debated as Hamas moves to reassert its authority in spite of shouldering some blame for the carnage (3), (4) (9). UNSG Ban expresses outrage at Israel’s actions, and Israel now admits it may have used illegal white phosphorous munitions (5), (6), (7). The violence has harmed the political fortunes of President Abbas and the PA (8). The Arab summit and Arab political divisions receive much coverage (10), (11), (12), (13), (14), (15). Ghassan Charbel in Al-Hayat urges Israel, Hamas and the Arab states to learn the lessons of the conflict (16).

Israeli completes Gaza troop pullout
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Amy Teibel - January 21, 2009 - 1:00am

The last Israeli troops left the Gaza Strip before dawn Wednesday, the military said, as Israel dispatched its foreign minister to Europe in a bid to rally international support to end arms smuggling into the Hamas-ruled territory. The timing of the pullout reflected Israeli hopes to defuse the crisis in Gaza before President Barack Obama entered the White House. The military said troops remain massed on the Israeli side of the border and are poised to take action if militants violate a fragile three-day cease-fire.

Israel Slows Withdrawal From Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Ethan Bronner - January 21, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel slowed its withdrawal of forces from Gaza on Tuesday as the two-day cease-fire with Hamas suffered its first violations. Israeli troops twice came under fire, and eight mortar shells were shot at Israel, all falling short. Israel responded with airstrikes on launching sites. Thousands of Palestinians supported Hamas at four rallies here while the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, visited to express support for those who had suffered in the war. An Arab meeting in Kuwait aimed at helping Gaza ended in disarray.

Hamas asserts control in Gaza, seeks "collaborators"
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Nidal Al-Mughrabi - January 21, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas said on Wednesday it had begun reasserting control in the Gaza Strip and rounding up suspected collaborators with Israel, drawing accusations from the rival Fatah group that its members were being targeted. "The internal security service was instructed to track collaborators and hit them hard," said Ehab al-Ghsain, spokesman of the Hamas Interior Ministry, without singling out Fatah members by name.

Debating the Blame for Reducing Much of a Village to Rubble
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The New York Times
by Sabrina Tavernise - January 20, 2009 - 1:00am

When the Assi brothers returned to their village, most of it was missing. Their house was flattened, and their olive groves crushed. The only thing left standing was a single almond tree. Of all the areas hit in Israel’s military campaign, Juhr el Dik, a farming village on Gaza’s eastern border, had more than its share of loss. In its center is now a giant swath of destruction where about 40 houses once stood. “It’s an earthquake,” said Salim Abu Ayadah, the mayor of the town, whose house was among those destroyed. “When I saw it, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I couldn’t walk.”

Ban demands probe into Gaza attacks
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Jazeera English
January 21, 2009 - 1:00am

Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, has demanded a "full investigation" into Israel's bombing of a UN compound in Gaza City. Speaking during an official visit to the devastated territory on Tuesday, he condemned the attack on the UN complex as "outrageous" and "totally unacceptable". "It is particularly significant for a secretary-general of the UN to stand in front of this bomb site of the UN compound," he said.

Israel admits troops may have used phosphorus shells in Gaza
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Guardian
by Peter Beaumont - January 21, 2009 - 1:00am

Israel has admitted – after mounting pressure – that its troops may have used white phosphorus shells in contravention of international law, during its three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip. One of the places most seriously affected by the use of white phosphorus was the main UN compound in Gaza City, which was hit by three shells on 15 January. The same munition was used in a strike on the al-Quds hospital in Gaza City the same day. Under review by Colonel Shai Alkalai is the use of white phosphorus by a reserve paratroop brigade in northern Israel.

IDF probes improper use of phosphorus shells in Gaza Strip
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Amos Harel - January 21, 2009 - 1:00am

The Israel Defense Forces is investigating whether a reserve paratroops brigade made improper use of phosphorus shells during the fighting in Gaza. The brigade fired about 20 such shells in a built-up area of northern Gaza. Aside from this one case, the shells were used very sparingly and, in the army's view, in compliance with international law.

Gaza operation weakens Palestinian Authority
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Los Angeles Times
by Richard Boudreaux - January 20, 2009 - 1:00am

With Israel and Hamas both claiming victory in the Gaza Strip, there is one clear loser: the U.S.-backed Palestinian Authority, which desperately wants a peace accord with Israel and a unified Palestine in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel's 22-day assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza made the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority look ineffective and marginalized, unable to stop the carnage. Popular support for its peace talks with Israel, already declining, now seems weaker than ever.

Control Of Gaza Subject Of Debate
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Washington Post
by Craig Whitlock - January 21, 2009 - 1:00am

As Palestinians begin thinking about how to rebuild the bombarded Gaza Strip, the biggest hurdle quickly became apparent: Who will be in charge? European countries, oil-rich Arab kingdoms and the United Nations have all pledged money or aid since Israel declared a cease-fire Sunday in the military offensive it launched Dec. 27. But none of the donors wants to deal with Hamas, the Islamist movement that still controls Gaza but is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the European Union and the United States.

Gaza divide dogs Arab economic summit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Reuters
by Rania El Gamal, Ulf Laessing - January 20, 2009 - 1:00am

Arab leaders agreed at a summit on Tuesday to help rebuild the battered Gaza Strip, but differences persisted over finding a united stance on the three-week Israeli offensive that killed more than 1,300 people. The conflict in Gaza underscored the Arab divide between those allied to Egypt and Saudi Arabia on one side, and those allied to Syria and Qatar on the other.

Jordan's king is torn between U.S.-Egypt and Syria-Hamas axes
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Haaretz
by Zvi Barel - (Analysis) January 21, 2009 - 1:00am

"I swear in the name of Allah that I will not use that American merchandise, I will not bring it into the house and I will not permit the members of my family to use it." That was the vow made in recent weeks by members of Jordan's committee against normalization with Israel. The burning of U.S.-made goods, a call for a boycott on companies that cooperate with Israel, and even a demand to sever Jordan's diplomatic relations with Israel are nothing new, but the burning of the Israeli flag by Jordanian MPs inside the parliament building - that has never happened before.

Meeting of Arab leaders on Gaza ends in discord
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The Associated Press
by Diana Elias - January 20, 2009 - 1:00am

Arab leaders trying to come up with a plan to rebuild Gaza ended their meeting Tuesday in discord, unable to agree on whether to back Egyptian peace efforts or even set up a joint reconstruction fund for the devastated Palestinian territory.

Egypt slams summit
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Al-Ahram
by Dina Ezzat - January 21, 2009 - 1:00am

This week, Egypt moved from the subtle to the upfront and officially expressed opposition to a request presented by Qatar for the convening of an emergency Arab summit on Gaza. The proposal was initially forwarded by Qatar to the Arab League at the outset of the Israeli aggression on Gaza 27 December.

King Abdullah's Third Way
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Asharq Alawsat
by Tariq Alhomayed - January 20, 2009 - 1:00am

King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz provided a lifeline for inter-Arab relations yesterday during the Arab Summit in Kuwait, providing great hope at a crucial time in a speech that encompassed everything from the bloodshed [in Gaza] to political absurdity.

Gaza needs a unified Arab response
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from The National
(Opinion) January 20, 2009 - 1:00am

Both Israel and Hamas have claimed victory with their respective unilaterally declared ceasefires, but it is difficult to see what they gained after 22 days of death and destruction in the Gaza Strip. Despite the assault, Hamas’s ability to launch rockets persists. As if to drive the point home, it launched 19 rockets into Israel while the Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, was announcing the ceasefire. Hamas, despite having survived the assault, now rules over a devastated populace.

The Lessons of the Massacre
ATFP World Press Roundup Article from Dar Al-Hayat
by Ghassan Charbel - (Opinion) January 20, 2009 - 1:00am

Every time the events of Gaza are discussed, one must not forget the magnitude of the massacre perpetrated by Israel there. An unprecedented massacre during which the Hebrew State set an extremely serious precedent as the advanced military machine pulverized civilians to compel fighters to stop rocket attacks. The world has beheld scenes it had thought would never happen or recur.

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