Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Olmert plays "tough guy" in photo op

Take a look at the photo the Israeli government has just released: Olmert is visiting and Israeli Air Force base and is trying on a pilot's helmet. Is that the Israeli version of Dubya's landing on an aircraft carrier off the California coast?

A lawyer fancying himself as a member of the "elite" (read:civilian murdering) IAF.

How pathetic and lame can those politicians get?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Islamic Revolution Leader issued a statement Sunday on the horrendous tragedy of Gaza bloodbath in the hand of the Zionists

Islamic Revolution Leader Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei issued a statement Sunday on the horrendous tragedy of Gaza bloodbath in the hand of the Zionists, strongly condemning the heinous complicity of the criminal Bush's regime with the Zionists, adding that the silence of some international bodies and some Arab states provided for the crimes.

Ayatollah Khamenei declared Monday as day of general mourning and called on all Muslim people and free men of the world to render their duty towards the tragic issue. The text of the statement is as follows (source here)

Bismillah-e Rahman-e Rahim

"We belong to Allah, and to Him we return"

The horrific atrocity of the Zionist regime in Gaza in which hundreds of innocent men, women and children were massacred pushed the curtain of deception from the blood thirsty face of the Zionist wolves and noted the negligent about the presence of this hostile disbeliever in the heart of the lands of Islamic umma.

The horrendous ordeal is very heavy and moving for any Muslim not to say for any free and noble human being in any corner of the world. However, the larger ordeal is the encouraging silence of some Arab governments which claim to be Muslims. Which ordeal could be larger than the fact that Muslim governments, otherwise expected to support the innocent Gaza people against the usurping and hostile regime, adopted a mood which encouraged the criminal Zionist authorities to impertinently consider them as in harmony with the large tragedy?

Which answer the heads of those countries have prepared to give to the Messenger of Allah (S.A.)? Which answer they have prepared to give to their own nations which are indeed mourning the tragedy? Indeed today the heart of the Egyptian, Jordanian and the people of other Islamic countries is overwhelmed with sorrow about the bloodshed as well as the protracted food and medicine embargos.

By his complicity in the large crime, the criminal Bush's administration in the last days of his shameful rule more darkened the face of the American regime than ever and added to its dossier of war crimes. The European governments with their indifference and sometimes their complicity in the large tragedy once more proved that their claims of advocacy for human rights are false and also showed they are present in the front against Islam and Muslims. Now, I ask the scholars and Alims of the Arab world and the chiefs of the Egyptian al-Azhar center "isn't it the time to feel the threat facing Islam and Muslims?" "Isn't it the time to fulfill the mandatory act of standing against any bullying ruler?" Is an additional, more divulging scene of complicity between the hostile disbelievers and the hypocrites of umma in repressing the Muslims than the current Gaza and Palestine developments is needed to prompt you to feel responsibility?

I have also a question to ask the media and the intellectuals of the world of Islam and especially the Arab world. For how long you have decided to remain indifferent regarding your media and intellectual responsibility?

Has there remained any more face for the scandal-hit human rights bodies of the west and the so-called 'security' council of the United Nations to lose?

All the Palestinian Mujahid and other faithful of the world of Islam are supposed to defend the defenseless people of Gaza. Anyone who is killed in the legitimate and holy defense is a martyr and is hoped to be among the ranks of the martyrs of Badr and Ohud battles in the presence of the Messenger of Allah (S.A.).

The Organization of the Islamic Conference must fulfill its historical responsibility in the sensitive conditions and form a solid front, bereft of inaction and preservations, against the Zionist regime. The Zionist regime must be punished by the Muslim governments. The heads of the usurping regime must be tried and punished in person for their crimes and the protracted siege.

The Muslim nations are able to materialize the demands through firm resolve. The duty of politicians, Alims and intellectuals in this juncture is much heavier than others.

I declare Monday a day of general mourning in commemoration of the Gaza tragedy and instruct the country's authorities to fulfill their duties regarding the sad incident.

"And those who do wrong shall surely know by what overturning they will be overturned"

Sayyed Ali Khamenei

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah December 28 "Gaza" speech

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's speech on the Israeli aggression Gaza is subject to be delivered on the first Ashura night commemoration in Sayyed Ashuhadaa (pbuh) Compound in Rweiss. .

In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah the Lord of the World and peace be on our Master and Prophet - the seal of the Prophets – Abi Al Qassem Mohammad bin Abdullah and on his pure and chaste Household and chosen companions an on all prophets and messengers. Peace be upon you my Master and lord, Aba Abdullah Al Hussein, O son of Allah's Prophet and on the souls that gather in your holy site. Peace be on you as long as I remained alive and as long as night follows day. May Allah make it not the last of my visits to you. Peace be on Hussein, Ali the son of Hussein, the children of Hussein and the companions of Hussein .

Brothers and sisters peace be upon you all and Allah's mercy and blessing. May Allah increase your reward for your grief on you Imam and master, the grandson on the Prophet, Abi Abdullah Al Hussein peace be upon him.. Brothers and sisters it's unfortunate that we begin our new Hegira year and our new year with a great humanistic tragedy which had led to the killing and injuring of the dear and the loved martyrs and wounded. The number of martyrs has transcended three hundred and the number of wounded one thousand in the besieged, oppressed and persecuted and at the same time resisting, patient and steadfast Gaza Strip. We need not talk about the thought and idea when there is before us the evidence, the implementation and the model. In these hours and moments we are living again a new evidential replica of Karbala. We are before a great scene from Kabala. If we looked at what is taking place here along with what took place in history, that'll help us more in understanding what took place. The true history of Karbala says that there is a faithful group who are adherent to their honor, esteem, dignity and the right of their nation, who refuse submission, humiliation and surrendering to tyrants and oppressors and who resist and stand up for confrontation. Now when this group is put before two choices either a disgraceful humiliating submission or unbalanced and unequal confrontation which might possibly or for sure lead to martyrdom, it chooses resisting and confronting and martyrdom.

This group of faithful is being besieged by hunger and thirst, terrorized, then killed and still does not retreat. Martyrs fall one after the other. Isn't this what took place in Karbala with Al Hussein peace be upon him? There the ideal model was made as a foundation for this great Islamic humanistic school for the all ages to come. He said his well known word which we say again and again every day and especially on the tenth day of Muharram: the bastard son of a bastard has put us before two choices: war or humiliation; unbalanced confrontation or humiliating and disgraceful submission. Hussein made his choice. Humiliation, how far! Allah does not accept that to befall us, neither his Prophet nor the believers….

Why: humiliation, how far? Is it an emotional issue and something that has to do with excitement and personal zeal? Or is it a humanistic, religious and divine commitment which springs from human values, dignity and rights? Hussein peace be upon him says: Humiliation, how far! Why does he say so? Neither Allah, nor his Prophet, the believers, the good hearted and the zealous honorable souls accept that we favor obedience of the villainous to the death of the noble. This is the school of Hussein and Prophet Mohammad in Karbala: to choose the martyrdom of honorable and the noble and not the base life of humiliation and submission where honor, rights and sanctities are being given in. This choice goes in harmony with Al Hussein's human nature and Islamic religious commitment. This was the choice in Karbala. This was the choice in July 2006 when you in Lebanon were before two choices. The Resistance, the resistance people and all those who embraced the resistance were put before two choices: humiliating submission and acceptance of the American Israeli conditions to stop the war or confronting the aggression, demolition, killing and massacre. You refused to live the life of the mean who are dead in the shape of living beings. You chose the martyrdom of the noble instead. Martyrs fell among you and with martyrdom the historic victory was achieved in Lebanon.

With the logic of Hussein and Karbala, you refused humiliation and insisted on confronting and resisting despite the demolition of tens of thousands of your houses and the falling of thousands of martyrs and wounded – men, women and children – and despite the lack of supporters and backers and the abandonment of those near and the connivance of those far. The outcome was the victory of blood on the sword. The same is taking place nowadays in Gaza. I'm not saying it's similar. No, what's taking place now in Gaza is an exact Palestinian replica of what took place in July 2006. We Lebanese understand very well what is taking place in Gaza. Be aware! What's taking place there in detail is what took place with us with the same set forth choices, the same connivance, the same battle and if God wills the same outcome.

Look at Gaza! It is besieged by hunger, thirst, iron, fire and terror. It offered but yesterday hundreds of martyrs and wounded. Still we find its people patient and steadfast. They don't show signs of weakness and frailty. The legal premier there – the freedom fighter brother Ismail Hanieh - steps out from under fire and says should they demolish all Gaza– and they can't – we'll not give up and give in. We'll guard our dignity, honor and rights. This is true Karbala; when man refuses humiliation and disgrace while offering martyrs and remains their last honors and while confronting fire day and night.

Today brothers and sisters, allow me to talk about some dimensions in the confrontation. Frankly speaking in July War, I didn't speak frankly. I understand very well the status of the brethrens in Gaza which is similar to our status in July War and even worse. That's why they must have their own well-planned speech but allow me to be frank whatever the consequences were. Today the clear explicit righteous word must reverberate. Let every nation assume its responsibility before what's taking place. Brothers and sisters what's taking place in Gaza is like what took place in Lebanon. Let me be frank in my description of what's taking place. There's a current and continuous US-Israeli project for the region. They want to impose a humiliating settlement with US-Israeli conditions to be imposed on the rest of Arabs – after Egypt and Jordan stepped out and concluded so called peace agreements with Israel. There remain the Palestinian people, Lebanon and Syria. The Americans and the Zionists want to settle the Arab-Israeli struggle not in any way but under US-Israeli conditions to be imposed on the Palestinians, the Lebanese and the Syrians. They must submit to these conditions and they have no other choices from the Americans and the Zionists' viewpoint. They work on imposing these conditions with power, under pressure, via isolation, through besiege, via causing internal ordeals to involve resistance movements in internal ordeals, through political and psychological media war, through assassinations and through wars. This is what's wanted. It's needed that he submits whoever didn't submit yet. It's needed that he gives in whoever didn't give in yet under US-Israeli conditions. Some Arab regimes are accomplices and part in this project. Some speak about Arab silence. This is not true. In fact there is Arab complicity. I don't mean all Arabs and all Arab regimes. But still there is complete and eventual complicity on behalf of some Arab regimes in this project, especially from the regimes which concluded so called peace agreements with Israel. These regimes work and give their support on all political, psychological, social, media, cultural, security and military levels so as to impose submissive conditions on those who resist and refuse the US-Zionist project pursuant to Palestine and the Arab-Israeli struggle.

Let's be very frank then. There is complicity and involvement from some Arab nations in what is taking in our region.

The war that was waged on Lebanon in 2006 was with Arab approval – and in some cases under Arab demand. The Israelis were clear and no one among the Arabs is courageous enough to deny that because the Zionists might have documents saying that such and such used to contact them saying "come on, rid us of Hezbollah". When the war started they used to soothe them. When they flopped in the first days of the war, they used to demand on them to carry on their hits to behead Hezbollah. This is what is taking place in Gaza today. They are calling on Israel to exterminate Hamas, Jihad and the rest of the Palestinian resistance factions to behead these resistance fighters and put a decisive end to the battle. They demand and offer their help in this perspective, in fact. Even more we heard some Israeli officials saying today that the Arab support offered in the war against Gaza is more than the Arab support Israel received in its war against Lebanon in July 2006. That's really regrettable.

So this is the true scene. I even tell you that the true reason behind the inter-Palestinian division and inter-Palestinian fighting is some of these Arab regimes which contributed, instigated, financed and armed so that the inter-Palestinian status reaches the level of fighting. As they did here in Lebanon where the ex-government couldn't dare to take those black decisions on May 5th wasn't it for the support, cover and backing of some of these Arab regimes which wanted then to rush Lebanon in the fires of a harsh internal war and a true internal ordeal. But this was overstepped thanks to the performance of the opposition during that time.

Those are neither unbiased, nor covered, nor embarrassed. They are convinced in what they're doing and they're doing what they're doing from the position of their commitment to this project. This is very regrettable.

Now when inter-fighting and inter-division take place in Palestine or in Lebanon, it'll be the pretext taken by these regimes to pull back their hands saying "Well the Palestinians are killing each other. What are we able to do?" Let's disclaim responsibility towards Palestine or towards Lebanon – and unfortunately- even on the political and media levels. Nobody called during July War 2006 or now in Gaza Strip on the Arab regimes to activate their fronts or to fight on behalf of the Lebanese then or the Palestinians currently. The least was demanded: an appropriate political stance or a fair media position. But again as in July War, we find that the victim is being held responsible. Yesterday, we heard an Egyptian official saying that he who aborted efforts for a Palestinian national dialogue is responsible for what's taking place – i.e. Hamas. Then he says that through our readings, we have made warnings and he who doesn't adhere to warning must himself assume responsibility. Can anyone believe that such speech was delivered by an Arab man or an Arab official being the very man who said during the peak of the siege on Gaza which was suffering from hunger and maladies that we'll break the legs of whoever steps the land of Egypt. By Allah, brothers and sisters let me resort to history. When we witness such models among officials, leaderships and personalities in the Arab world, I personally understand some of Imam Hussein's (pbuh) speech in that time. He used to say: "I can't but find death as happiness and life among oppressors but disgusting." By Allah, there is no value for life under such personalities and leaderships that conspire against the nation. When we have 300 martyrs who were slaughtered in minutes, an Arab official steps out to hold the victims and martyrs responsible for the confrontation. As if Hamas, Jihad and the Palestinian factions in Gaza were supposed to agree on dilation to ease the siege, hunger and humiliation which were practiced against them for six months.

Today we are hearing the very speech which we used to hear in July War 2006: an attempt to hold the resistance in Gaza responsible of the war and its repercussions. This is disdainful and regrettable. Even on the media level, I watched yesterday some Arab channels - which are more appropriately described as Hebrew channels. As if those who were killed in Gaza died in an accident in India? They reported the news and turned to their ordinary programs as if there is no great Arab humanistic catastrophe taking place in Gaza? Indeed, these channels will be embarrassed? What to report to their audience? Still they insist to refer to those who were killed in Gaza as "dead" and not "martyrs".

Today brothers and sisters, this is the true and sound scene. The people of Gaza took their blood-shedding decision and they're practicing it in martyrdom, resistance, steadfastness, glory and honor as you did in 2006. They are not hindered as you were not hindered by the great sacrifices offered, the massive demolition, the blood and tears shed and the abandonment practiced by the world from insisting on adhering to this right and carrying on in fighting and resisting steadfastly.

But what is the responsibility of the nation today? We as a nation are before a central aim which we must put before our eyes in the current confrontation. The central aim to stop this Zionist aggression on Gaza must be preventing this aggression from achieving any of its aims. Thus will be the victory in Gaza despite the great sacrifices. This aim must be wrought for by the whole nation. As for the governments which haven't showed any action, their peoples must push them to take action. The peoples are not excused should they say that our regimes are dictatorships. We must hit the street in the Arab and Islamic worlds and raise our voices in face of the world. We must practice pressure on our governments even if they opened fire on our chests. This is our duty. And whoever falls in this way is a martyr in the path of liberating Al Qods. He is a martyr of Islam, of prophethood, divine missions and humanity. But it's forbidden that rulers excuse themselves for their inability and the peoples for the rulers' suppression. In July War, I didn't call on the Arab peoples to do so but in Gaza War and the aggression against Gaza I say that this is our duty: we must hit the streets in thousands if not tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands to call on these governments to assume their responsibilities. These governments know what they can do. They can do much in this time when the United States and European countries and other countries are suffering from severe financial and economic crisis. Yes, today the Arab world owns oil, money and the political position. Our governments and regimes can simply and with little effort stop the aggression on our people in Gaza. This is first. Secondly, the Arab and Islamic peoples must hit the street and call on the Egyptian regime in particular – today the Egyptian stance is the corner stone in what's taking place in Gaza; nobody is calling on Egypt to activate its front and fight – to open the cross point so that food, medicine, water and even arms be accessible to our people in Gaza. And in Gaza there are people and fighters whether men or women who are qualified to stand steadfast, resist and make victories. They have showed extreme courage in all the previous stages. In Lebanon, during July War, we didn't call on any Arab nation to open a front. Yes we called for opening borders. That's why we used to show our gratitude to Syria as being our partner in steadfastness and victory in July War. That's because Syria didn't close the borders despite these crossing points and border ways being subject to repetitive aerial shelling. Nothing is asking Egypt to do more than opening the cross point once and for all for the alive and not for the wounded and martyrs. Egypt is not The Red Crescent. Egypt is the mother of the world as is being said. It's the greatest and most important Arab country. It's not The Red Cross or The Red Crescent to deal with Gaza people as such. The Egyptian leadership and regime must resolve this issue. On the political level it is also demanded from Egypt not to make use of the War to press on Hamas and the Palestinian factions in Gaza to accept the Israeli conditions to stop the war or make an appeasement as some among us made during the first days of July aggression. They rather must help politically the people of Gaza to halt the aggression unconditionally. This is its true responsibility. Our peoples in the Arab and Islamic worlds must make their calls on the Egyptian regime. So far we were talking with civility. But following what took place yesterday we tell the Egyptian regime:

O Egyptian officials, if you don't open Rafah Cross point, if you don't help your brethrens in Gaza, you are accomplices in the crime, in the killing, in the siege, in making the Palestinian tragedy. This speech must be heard by the Egyptian officials from the peoples of the Arab and Islamic worlds, from scholars, parties, elites, the educated, and journalists from among the various social classes. They must know that they'll be in a position condemned by the nation, history, prophets and martyrs if they didn't make haste from now to take this great historic humanistic stance. The speech is thus oriented above all to the Egyptian people -this Muslim, Arab, noble, kind, resisting, courageous and honorable people whom we all know their hearts minds and way of thought. Let the Egyptian people hit the streets in millions. Can the Egyptian police stop millions of Egyptians? They can't. We all call on the Egyptian people because they are under this regime which closes Rafah cross point. O people of Egypt, you must open the cross point with your chests. I'm not making overbids. I'm talking from the position of being a part of the resistance which fought for 33 days to the people who fought, and offered sacrifices and martyrs. What we hear and know about the Egyptian officers and armed forces that they are still adherent to their noble Arab descent and still on their anti-Zionist position despite decades after Camp David. This is what we know about them. I'm not calling for staging a coup d'etat in Egypt. I'm not in the position of calling for a coup d'etat in Egypt but I'm with the generals and officers pressing on the political leadership: that doesn't go with the honor of our military uniforms, and military affiliations to see our people in Gaza being slaughtered while we guard Israel's borders! Let move today: Egypt, the people of Egypt, scholars, Al Azhar sheikdom, the various armed forces, and political elites – I don't think anyone is excused. This is what changes the equation – adjusting the Egyptian political position. This is what the Arab leaders, Arab peoples and the Egyptian people must call on Egypt to do. Were we able to open this cross point and water, food, medicine, money and even arms were accessible again to our people in Gaza, the victory epic of Lebanon will reoccur for sure. We are sure of victory despite all the harsh conditions our people in Gaza are suffering from. Should Gaza stand steadfast – brothers and sisters – for days and weeks the aggression will come to an end. This enemy does not bear a war of attrition and a long war. This enemy will be obliged at last to halt his aggression and his aims will fall along with all these heads which wanted to restore power via Palestinian blood voting ballot boxes in Israeli elections. Yes, some will tell us – and some tell us so in Lebanon – that the solution is in heading for a just and comprehensive peace. This is the solution that'll put an end to the tragedy! Well, putting aside our initial position on a fair and comprehensive peace, what have you – who call for a fair and comprehensive peace since, before and after Madrid Agreement - gained from Israel so far except massacres, blood bathes, aggressions and more humiliation and condition imposing? In the Palestinian settlement, the Palestinian government went so far. The negotiations in Camp David weren't with the Likud or Kadima but with the Labor Party with Barak who was head of the enemy cabinet. Under late president Yasser Arafat in Camp David, the Palestinians didn't gain the least of their rights that saves their face. What fair and comprehensive peace will be achieved under such humiliating Israeli conditions: no Jerusalem, no right to return and no Palestinian land worthy of erecting the state of Palestine on. What are these theorizations and absurdities! At the time when we are being killed and slaughtered in Palestine as we were previously and currently being in Lebanon, some speak about a fair and comprehensive peace. Have you convinced the Israelis first of a fair and comprehensive peace so you call on the Palestinian factions to put down their arms? What've you gained from the Israelis so far, in Lebanon, in Palestine and in the region? Have they restored to you your legal rights or the last of them? Never! Some in Lebanon tell us – and this is also an absurdity – the international community will guard us. Where is the international community to guard an armless people in Gaza and to protect the children and women of Gaza?

The international resolutions will guard us, they say. Where are these international resolutions in the Arab-Israeli struggle? None of which was implemented, even 425. The Arab solidarity will guard us, they say. What Arab solidarity? The Arabs need days to agree on holding a session and they haven't yet due to reservations shown here and there!

Brothers and sisters: what took place and is taking place in Gaza and what took place in July Aggression 2006 must be sufficient enough to convince every Arab, every nationalist in his nation and every man loyal to his rights country and nation: what protects our peoples and restores our rights is the resistance – the struggling, resisting, steadfast blood shedding resistance. All other choices are but mirage. Do we Arabs and the peoples of the Arab and Islamic worlds need to have this conscious and conviction a hundred Qana massacre? A hundred Gaza massacre? A hundred Dair Yassin massacre? A hundred Al Haram Al Ibrahim massacre? This is very regrettable by Allah. This enemy with whom you seek peace every two years gives you a new evidence of his savagery, racism, criminal nature, and radical shedding of innocent blood. This enemy will not return your calls for peace but with more killing. Do we need more massacres so our rulers, peoples and elites be convinced that we are before an enemy who is criminal, terrorizing and racial in nature and with which no peace can be achieved under whatever conditions. What if under humiliating conditions? Do we need more bloodshed to be convinced? Yet under all conditions and with the clarity the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine has and the clarity with which we are calling governments and peoples we are sure of victory – as we know Gaza's people and resistance fighters. Here I call on them in your name and in the name of the fighters in Lebanon, the martyrs' families, the prisoners and wounded families and in the name of every honorable resistance fighter in Lebanon, I congratulate them and offer my condolence for their martyrs and ask Allah to bless their wounded with health and remedy. We are sure that they are a people who trust in Allah and believe in the divine victory – even if some don't believe in it. They are all-attentive in the battlefield and firm in the struggle. They give unconditionally. They are all-honorable, dignified and steadfast. These are the true victory-making elements: faith, devotion and steadfastness. This makes victory. Allah will support and back you and the whole nation is responsible of standing on your side. No one is allowed to drop behind. Each according to his capabilities is responsible of backing you.

As for Lebanon, I'd like to say some words concerning Lebanon in this turmoil and ordeal. Since the beginning of the bloody aggression against Gaza, Olmert, Barak, Livney among other Israeli officials made serious threats and warning to "whatever side" – and they mean Lebanon. They've taken measures on the borders and mobilized the northern borders of occupied Palestine. Today calls for settlers in northern occupied Palestine were made to prepare and equip shelters. Many other notes were made in this perspective. There are two possibilities. We must talk here with national moral responsibility. I don't want to frighten anyone or let anyone feel worried. Still I can't deceive anyone. There're two possibilities: either all what Israelis say and do in the northern region are pre-emptive steps fearing anything might take place on the Lebanese side, or –this other possibility can't be neglected – in this bad timing, under such Arab regime complicity, frail Arab position, international vacancy, the world's occupation in financial crisis, political vacancy in US decision-making between Obama's assumption of power and Bush's outgoing, one possibility remains – that the enemy resorts to taking action or staging an aggression against Lebanon to seize this opportunity. They need that whether in the elections or to repair what they call the Israeli deterrence image. We can't feel safe taking what some say into consideration that Israel doesn't fight on two fronts. It had fought on three and four fronts in the past. This calls on the Lebanese government, army, people and resistance to be cautious and alert and not to deem easy what's taking place around. Even the eight rockets which were found days before the military attack on Gaza evoke this question. Who put these rockets before the war started? Unfortunately, we find some political forces and figures when Tarraf brothers were kidnapped in Blida village we didn't hear their voices. We didn't notice this zeal, national speech and broken heart. But when some Katyusha rockets were found in Naqura they made their theories and statements. They started finger-pointing on us. Some even said nobody can move in that region but Hezbollah. If these were their information on which they usually build their political analysis they are mistaken. This is a wrong and unsound piece of information. Some also tried to hold Hezbollah responsible of that. I'd like to tell them that we in Hezbollah are courageous enough to assume responsibility of whatever action we take. We don't hide behind our finger as some do. We have the courage and we are not accused to try to push aside the accusation. The issue is suspicious from the other side. Can't Israel infiltrate to southern Lebanon an place the rockets? Can't Israel's agents – and they're many in Lebanon as persons or nets – undertake this action not in solidarity with our people in Gaza but to give Israel the pretext to stage an aggression against Lebanon? Who says that this gives Israel the pretext? Let's say that such thing took place, does that give Israel the pretext to stage an aggression against Lebanon, to demolish and confront Lebanon? You are furnishing Israel with excuses through such speeches and absurd frail statements. I'm not now concerned in deeply discussing this issue. I'm concerned in calling on Lebanon and the area including Lebanon which has defeated Israel not only twice but many times but the most important two times were in 2000 and 2006. Yes we must be cautious. I'm not frightening you. This speech must not be dealt with as a media leakage. I called on the brethrens in the south in particular to be cautious because we are facing a criminal treacherous enemy. We don't know the size of the conspiracies and plots made against us in the region and the world. We weren't frightened by what took place in July War 2006 and by what's taking place today in Gaza. We believe in our choices and are ready for confronting whatever aggression on our land and against our country and dignity. We've written our slogan with blood and we face all aggressors whoever they were with our presence, resistance and affiliation to "humiliation, how far!" Brothers and sisters, we all in Lebanon and all over the Arab and Islamic worlds are called upon in these historic days which coincide with Ashura days to assume historic responsibility towards what's taking place in Gaza. The outcome of what's taking place in Gaza will not affect Gaza alone or Palestine alone but the whole nation. We must carry on in our work and take action. We mustn't be satisfied with an activity here or a sit in there or a demonstration. We must exert every effort to defend our people. As for tomorrow which His Eminence Sayyed Khamenai -May Allah prolong his lifetime- called as a mourning day for all the resisting fighters and the free, we are concerned in marking that day by showing our solidarity and condolence to our people in Gaza and by mourning the pure oppressed martyrs who were killed there. In my turn, I call you tomorrow at three pm to a massive rally at Raya Field to partake in this mourning expression and in paying our tribute to the martyrs and fighters in Gaza and to express our solidarity with them. I know that tomorrow many Ashura assemblies will be held in neighborhoods and mosques. I call for canceling all these assemblies in the afternoon and showing up tomorrow: men, women, children, adults, infants. We must meet tomorrow in this solidarity show with Gaza and the martyrs. Tomorrow we must let the whole world hear our voice. The whole world must see our "Husseini" fists. We must announce to the world that we are here. No one can make us succumb: no killing, no blood, no terrorizing. I used to call on you on the tenth day of Muharam to gather in Raya Field. But brothers, tomorrow is the tenth day. "All days are but Ashura days. All lands are but Karbala." Tomorrow Al Hussein will call and we'll answer his calls. You'll give the answer tomorrow God willing. My Master Aba Abdullah, that's your blood, your voice and your speech. My Master Aba Abdullah, O son of the Prophet of Allah, that's your blood and limbs and your speech is reverberating through history. Again your blood is defeating the sword. Your blood is awaking the nation; your blood is marking the path to the life of the noble, the dignified and the chase. Peace be upon you my Master and lord, Aba Abdullah Al Hussein, O son of Allah's Prophet and on the souls that gather in your holy site. Peace be on you as long as I remained alive and as long as night follows day. May Allah make it not the last of my visits to you. Peace be on Hussein, Ali the son of Hussein, the children of Hussein and the companions of Hussein and on all martyrs in the "Husseini" resisting path and peace be upon you all and Allah's mercy and blessing.

The one mistake Hamas should not commit: accept a ceasefire

To its great credit, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has expressed many doubts about the rationale behind the Israeli assault on Gaza from the very first day of the operation. Today Haaretz published two analytical reports which are very interesting. The first one, entitled Operation Cast Lead in Gaza is entering its problematic phase ,and the second one, entitled Hamas is hoping for an IDF ground operation, are both strongly implying that a ground operation could result in a disaster for Israel and that Hamas would come out greatly strengthened from such an attack. Then there is a recent article in Press TV entitled Stop Gaza attacks for new ceasefire in which a "top Hamas official rules out any talk of a new ceasefire with Israel unless all missile strikes on Gaza stop and border crossings open". The analysts for Haaretz - Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff and Aluf Benn - are absolutely correct. The thing that worries me is that they are also suggesting that Hamas is at least thinking about the terms under which it might accept to return to the negotiating table. See, I am not worried about Hamas being too intransigent in a search for a ceasefire, I am worried about Hamas being willing to consider *any* ceasefire before truly inflicting a humiliating defeat on Israel.

Considering all its past mistakes and miscalculations, it is absolutely essential, vital really, for Hamas to clearly and unequivocally prevail against Israel in the current war. If Israel is allowed to walk away from "Operation Cast Lead" (who cooks up these stupid names anyway?!) with its head held high there is a great risk that this kind of criminal assault will be repeated in the future. Hezbollah, for example, only agreed to a ceasefire after Israel and clearly exhausted *all* of its military options without even so much as a trace of an achieved objective. Hamas now needs hunker down, force Israel into a ground offensive and prevail. Even though the cost in terms of human lives and suffering will be huge, that is the only way to prevent Israel from repeating this over and over again each time its hapless politicians need to win an election and show that they are "tough".

In the past, Hamas got itself drawn into a utterly counterproductive "ceasefire" with Israel and into lengthy and equally counterproductive negotiations with Israel via Egypt. This strategy of negotiations resulted in a blockade of Gaza which was gradually turning into a genocide. Hamas needs to learn from these mistakes and stop all negotiations with Israel and its puppets in the Middle-East.

What Israel did in Hamas is criminal by any standards. Israel violated the basic norms of civilized behavior, it committed grievous human rights violations and the current "Operation Cast Lead" is a textbook example of war crimes. The Palestinian people are now at a crucial moment in their history. They can either settle for some lame ceasefire deal with Israel, or they can make the Zionist Jews realize once and for all that the time when they could massacre Palestinians with impunity is truly over.

Hamas now has a real chance to become the "Palestinian Hezbollah", but for that Hamas needs to stay away from any negotiations or ceasefire before Israel is severely defeated. Any premature ceasefire will only serve to multiply and prolong the suffering of the Palestinian people.

The Saker

Sayyed Nasrallah: Time for Palestinians to Unite

al-Manar reports:

Tens of thousands of Lebanese, Palestinians and Arabs responded Monday to Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah and gathered in Beirut’s southern suburb in solidarity with Gaza and to pay tribute to the 318 martyrs who fell so far in the Israeli barbaric attack on the Strip. One protester said that Arab leaders must unite and revolt against Israeli tyrants. "Arab leaders are invited to immediately break off ties with Israel and pressure Egypt to open the Rafah crossing," he told Al-Manar.

Despite the cold weather and rain, the Raya field and surrounding areas in Dahiye were full with protesters hours before the rally began.

The waved Palestinian, Lebanese and Hezbollah flags and shouted anti US and Israeli slogans and calls for Egypt to take a historic stance in support of Gaza amid a suspicious official Arab silence. "Some Arab regimes have no dignity," one of the protesters said, calling on Egypt to open the crossings for food, medication and also weapons. She noted that the "urgent Arab summit which is scheduled on Friday means nothing since the Arab decision is already taken. “How do they define urgent? The Israeli aggression started Saturday and so far more than 300 Palestinians have been killed, by Friday they will become 1000 martyrs. What are they waiting for? I’m really ashamed to have such weak leaders in this nation,” she said.

Sayyed Nasrallah addressed the protesters through a wide screen and praised their resolution and determination to support their brothers in Gaza.

“I thank you and appreciate your response to the call to support Gaza. Today you are expressing your constant commitment to respond to this yearly call (Ashura) and today is one of Imam Hussein’s days and one of the days of Jihad and martyrdom. Today you are responding to the call of this great Imam Sayyed Ali Khamenei for this nation to express solidarity and pride in the martyrs. To Gazans I say: your pain is our pain and your wounds are our wounds.”

His eminence stressed the whole world should understand that Gaza is not alone and that some media outlets, the retreat of some Arab political elites and time can never take Palestine from the hearts and minds of the nation. “Palestine will remain right and Israel will always be wrong,” the Hezbollah leader said.

“Today we meet again to express pride in the martyrs of Gaza, because we are the nation of martyrs and we bear the culture of martyrdom that is the culture of life with dignity. Those martyrs have fallen in the greatest most sanctified battle. Those are the martyrs for the sake of Allah, on His path where there is no room for abandoning a grain of sand from our sacred land,” Sayyed Nasrallah added.

His eminence reiterated that everyone should act responsibly with regards to the situation in Gaza. “I don not want to repeat what I said yesterday but I would like to add something. On your behalf, I call on Lebanese President Michel Sleiman as a consensus president to spare no effort to push for holding the Arab summit because some sides are already trying to frustrate it. Today, Lebanon’s position should support Gaza and should not take the same side as this or that Arab regime. The president is cognizant of Lebanon’s triumphant experience in 2006 and based on this he is requested to play a central role and hear his brave voice in support of the oppressed Palestinian people in any summit just as we heard him in the conference for the dialogue of religions.”

Sayyed Nasrallah urged the Palestinians everywhere to unite and cooperate. “It is wrong to believe that this war is waged against Hamas. It is in fact waged against all the Palestinians and their will, right and determination. The US administration’s scheme is to establish the Zionist entity over the heads of all Arabs in the region. It does not care who governs Arab states. In principle, the US administration has no objection if an Islamist, extremist or fundamentalist rules any Arab country. What’s important for the US is the ruler’s political program and his stance regarding Israel and the US; will he sell his oil and yield to Washington and Tel Aviv’s political and economic terms or not? Will he abandon his rights and the rights of his people or not? That’s what governs the US position concerning any political regime in the Arab and Islamic worlds. The US administration regards any Islamist party according to its position from Israel but not according to its religion, religious rites or ideology.

The war is waged today on the program of the resistance. If our brother Khaled Meshal calls any of the mediators and says that he is ready for negotiations with Israel, the bombardment of Gaza would, the bombardment of Gaza would stop in no time and Hamas would govern Gaza and the West Bank as well.

Israel and the US problem with Hezbollah is not based on the party’s religious nature. If one Hezbollah leader calls Washington, and they really wish we’d do this, and told the American that we are ready to discuss our weapons, our resistance and our sovereignty, the American will help us govern Lebanon. Their real problem is with our political program that refuses to abandon prisoners, land and sovereignty.”

The Hezbollah chief also stressed the target in Gaza was the remainder of the resistance and the will of the Palestinians. “This is why I support all call for a third Intifada in Palestine and similar uprisings in the Arab and Islamic worlds. We call on all Palestinian factions to unite and work on stopping this aggression without allowing the Israelis to achieve their goals. We also call on Arabs and Muslims to continue action because the aggression continues.

The Qana massacre in the Israeli war of 1996 changed the formula and the second Qana massacre changed the formula of the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon, however the difference between these wars and the war on Gaza is that Israel began its aggression on the Strip with a massacre which means they are determined to exploit every second to achieve their goals and this is why Arab rulers are requested to exert real efforts to stop this.

People have begun taking to the streets of Arab capitals and this is a good sign that we did not witness during the 2006 war. This also means a real improvement in the position of the peoples.”

Sayyed Nasrallah said he had expected he would be assailed after his Sunday speech, yet he firmly said that defending Gaza is worth offering blood and being blasphemed or insulted in much less that offering blood. “We are all engaged in the battle of the nation and the battle to awaken awareness against delusive campaigns. Yesterday I hears one of the Arab blasphemers and liars saying that Hezbollah has bombarded the Egyptian embassy in Beirut. What kind of lies are these. We avoided going to the Egyptian embassy because of the sensitivity of the situation. All we are doing is peacefully asking the Egyptians to change their position. I also read prominent Arab journals accusing Hamas and the resistance of selling their people for the sake of regional powers and regime and they named Syria! What is Syria’s interest in killing civilians in Gaza? Syria took the initiative and stopped its indirect talks with Israel. And is Hamas really defending Iran in Gaza? These are trivial and hateful accusations regardless of their source. Resistance factions are defending their people in Gaza. They accuse the victim of being faithful to their people. The people of Gaza are the purest and most honorable people, and those who abandon them are participating in the crime, killings and treason. We have been calling to open the Rafah crossing; today if you hear all speeches you will see that the calls for Egypt to open the Rafah crossing are unanimous. We are talking about steadfastness in Gaza and the first condition to consolidate steadfastness there is to open the gates for it.”

Sayyed Nasrallah underlined “what would settle the course is the battlefield and the steadfastness of the people and the political and military leaderships.”

“Persistence in firing rockets is an indication to power in the battlefield. What is happening in Gaza today is similar to what had happened in Lebanon in 2006. Settlers living 40km from Gaza will stay either in shelters or outside their settlements. The war in Gaza is a matter of time, and the Israelis can’t endure a long war. Questions about the feasibility of the war will emerge soon. In Lebanon, Israel’s strategic stockpile of missiles was depleted and the Israeli air force failed to achieve its goals although there were many martyrs, many injured and many destroyed houses, however we did not lay down arms and our will was not taken from us. Israel is involved in a psychological war campaign against the Palestinians through news about masses of soldiers and tanks preparing to storm into Gaza. But when they begin their ground offensive, they will begin to lose as they will be faced by brave resistance fighters.”

The leader of the resistance addressed Egypt and renewed his call to open the Rafah crossing. “We are asking Egypt and the Arab leaders to secure the requirements of steadfastness for the Gazan population if they were not able to stop the aggression.”

His eminence concluded his speech by urging Arabs and Muslims to keep working on all levels to back the Palestinians in Gaza, “and I hope that you would remain alert to respond for future calls, positions and decisions.”

Monday, December 29, 2008

How relevant are the "lessons of the 2006 war" for the current Israeli assault on Gaza

Many pro-Israeli commentators are making statements about how the IDF has learned the lessons of the 2006 war against Hezbollah and how the mistakes which were then committed by the Israelis would not be repeated today. Sounds good, but it also makes me wonder what exactly they are referring to? Let's take a closer look at the two main aspects of the 2006 war and see whether they are really relevant to the assault on Gaza today.

The bombing campaign by the Israeli Air Force:

So far, if there were any "lessons" learned from 2006 one can be excused for not being able to identify which ones: the Israelis are bombing buildings with the hope of hitting the forces of the resistance. That, of course, assumes that resistance fighters are stupid enough to hide inside the targeted buildings. Why would any infantry force be so kind as to conveniently hide itself inside easily identifiable and targetable buildings is anyone's guess, of course. So if there was a "lesson" to be learned from 2006 it would be that BUILDINGS are not COMBAT FORCES. Simple, but totally overlooked by the Israelis. Or is it? If one assumes that the Israelis are truly after Hamas, then it would appear that the Israelis are just amazingly obtuse and do not learn their lesson. But if one makes a different assumption, that the Israelis are not trying to hit Hamas, but are trying to make the civilians population pay for its support for Hamas, then the Israeli strategy makes sense (in a sick way). Of course, this is also what took place in 2006. The reality is that Israel never really attempted to destroy Hezbollah with air strikes. Weaken it somewhat, yes, probably, but not really destroy it. Today we are seeing the same "garden variety" Israeli form of terrorism which uses F-16 to punish a misbehaving Palestinian population. Is that an effective technique? Of course not, but that is one the Israelis simply like. So much for the "lessons learned" thing.

The ground invasion

After being humiliated by Hezbollah's defiant resistance to its 2006 version of "shock and awe", the Israelis send their ground forces into Lebanon with the somewhat vague objective of "disarming Hezbollah" and freeing the two Israeli soldiers made prisoners by Hezbollah. The result of that was a 28 day SNAFU which will rank as one of the most humiliating defeat every inflicted on a military force. How would an invasion of Gaza compare to the 2006 invasion?

First, it is important to stress here that the terrain in Gaza is dramatically different from the one in southern Lebanon. While the latter is a combinations of hills, narrow valley and small villages, Gaza is flat and extremely urbanized. Gaza is also of a rather elongated shape (take a look at the high-res map by clicking on it), so Gaza can be cut into several separated sections by an Israeli combined arms thrust towards the coastline. The main advantage of such a strategy would be mainly psychological: it would give the Israelis the opportunity to say that they have taken control of "all of Gaza". Good PR for sure, but fairly useless in military terms as it would still leave the main urban areas in the hands of the resistance. What to do with these areas is really the key decision which the Israeli generals have to make: do they go in or not?

If they decide to stay clear from the highly urbanized sections of Gaza they will have achieved very little in military terms: Hamas will just pull back its forces inside and keep on striking the Israelis in a way and manner of their choosing. If the decide to go in the urban areas then the Israelis will be looking at a type of war which the never had to face before.

Sending in Merkavas is simply not an option. This is exactly what Eltsin's defense minister Pavel Grachev did during the first Chechen war when ordered a hastily assembled Russian armored force enter Grozny . We know the result: the Russians did rapidly get inside the center of Grozny, but only to be immediately slaughtered by Chechen infantryman with antitank weapons. Not even the Israelis could repeat such a crude tactical mistake (Grachev was one of the most incompetent officer to ever command a Russian military operation).

The correct way to invade an urban center like Grozny or Gaza is to do what the Russians did in the second Chechen war: to send in heavily armed mobile infantry units, supported by armor coming in *behind* them. Such a force has to move in with little or no support from the air (helicopters are too vulnerable, aircraft too prone to blue on blue mistakes) and it cannot make much use of advanced military technologies besides UAV/drones and nightfighting optics. Could the Israelis repeat the Russian operation in Grozny? That really depends on the quality of their soldiers but my guess is that they cannot.

For the second Chechen war the Russians did not repeat Grachev's criminally incompetent mistakes: they sent in very well trained forces, a mixture of Airborne Forces, Naval Infantry, Special Operations units, Internal Ministry special forces (SOBR), FSB special forces (Vympel, Gruppa A) etc. Many of these forces were composed of professional soldiers with a great deal of combat experience and with a strong determination to eradicate the Wahabi Chechen terrorists which had taken over the Chechen republic.

Organized in mobile infantry operational groups the Russian forces retook Grozny building by building, with some instances of close quarters and hand to hand combat against the Chechens, and while the Russian forces did not suffer as many casualties as some had predicted, their losses were not trivial either. It takes a great deal of resolve to be able to pull off that kind of operation. Are the Israelis capable of this kind of resolve? I don't think so.

From a "real" fighting force, the IDF has gradually transformed itself into a "punitive" forces whose main capability is to shoot, kill, maim and otherwise terrorize and humiliate Palestinian civilians. Then there is the deeply ingrained Israeli racism which makes them believe that the Palestinians are somehow "inferior" to them. In contrast, while the Russians definitely hated the Wahabi Chechen leaders for the innumerable atrocities these terrorists were guilty of, the Russians never felt that the Chechen people were somehow "inferior". Most Russians, in fact, knew that the Chechens are formidable and courageous fighters and they respected them for that.

The Israelis have neither the training nor the guts to take back the urban areas of Gaza house by house. In stark contrast to the Israelis, I am willing to bet that the Palestinians are impatient for that kind of fight to begin and that Hamas and the other Palestinians are as ready as ever to finally get a chance to take on their oppressor in a fairly even combat.

For all their boisterous hubris, the Israeli commanders probably know all this and while it is hard to make prediction about what kind of follies a born looser like Olmert might commit before he finally leaves office (Olmert is, I think, in the same league as Grachev), my guess is that the Israelis will not reinvade Gaza.

Yes, they will go in, kill many Palestinians, and then declare victory and leave (probably under the figleaf of some kind of a Egyptian or Quartet brokered deal). In the end, Hamas will win a first military victory which will be strenuously denied by the Zionist controlled media. Ditto for the US political class: remember how Dubya announced to the world that Israel had "defeated" Hezbollah in 206?

Hamas is not Hezbollah, not by a long stretch. But the Israelis are every bit as stupid as they were in 2006, that is the real "lesson" which the Palestinians will learn from all this. Hopefully, this ill-conceived Israeli assault is what will finally make Hamas into a Hezbollah-like force and then Israel will find *itself* surrounded by a "wall" of its own: a wall of resolve and courage by the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance forces. Lastly, the Israeli blunder into Gaza will contribute to destabilize the puppet Mubarak who will find himself in a position similar to the one of Siniora and the rest of the Israeli puppets in Lebanon.

While the first couple of days probably feel good for many Israelis, we can count in hearing the first cries of "oi veh!" fairly soon. Israel will find out the hard way that there is no quick fix for the Gaza problem out there.

The Saker

Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah Calls for Massive Rally Monday

al-Manar reports:

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah called for a massive gathering in Beirut’s southern suburb to denounce the Israeli aggression on Gaza and to express solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Sayyed Nasrallah was speaking through a large screen as he marked the first night of Ashoura at the Sayyed Shouhadaa complex in Dahiyeh.

His eminence addressed the situation in Gaza and expressed deep regret at the Arab collusion “that is similar to the Arab collusion during the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon.”

“It is truly unfortunate to begin our Hijri new Year and Gregorian new year with a serious humanitarian calamity that has so far taken the lives of three hundred Palestinians in the besieged, oppressed yet resistant and steadfast Gaza Strip. Today, we might not need to speak about the notion as we are witnessing the model of a new Karbala. What is taking place today helps us more to understand history. Karbala’s reality is that a few believers had refused humiliation and yielding to tyrants. Those believers were to choose between humiliation and disproportionate confrontation that may lead to martyrdom, so they chose martyrdom. Imam Hussein peace be upon him created this model and said his famous words: We shall never be disgraced. It was not a matter of emotions, it was rather a matter of humanitarian and ideological commitment. This is the school of Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him in Karbala,” Sayyed Nasrallah explained.

His eminence went on saying that this was the choice in Karbala “and this was the choice during the July 2006 war.” He told the resistance community in Lebanon that “when you were to choose between surrender and confrontation, you chose to stand up, thus refusing disgrace regardless of the tens of thousands of homes destroyed and the hundreds of martyrs and injured. You stood up against collusion, betrayal and disgrace and this is how blood conquered the sword.”

The Hezbollah chief underlined that what is taking place in Gaza today was identical to what had taken place in Lebanon during the 2006 war. “It’s the same choices, the same collusion and inevitably the same consequence,” he said predicting victory in the end.
“When the legitimate Prime Minister Ismail Haniyyeh come out from under the rubble and fire to say ‘we will not surrender and we will preserve our dignity…this is Karbala.”
Sayyed Nasrallah openly spoke about the ongoing confrontation in Gaza. “Allow me to dot the i's and cross the t's, because we’re in dire need for the nation to shoulder its responsibility. What is taking place today in Gaza is similar to what had taken place in Lebanon; there is a US-Israeli scheme in the region and they want to impose humiliating conditions on the Palestinians, Lebanon and Syria after Egypt and Jordan made so called peace agreements with Israel. They are working on imposing these conditions by force, pressure, isolation, internal sedition, media and psychological wars, assassinations and wars. For them, it is essential to yield those who have not yet yielded t the US-Israeli scheme.”

His eminence stressed some Arab regimes are partners in the scheme. “It is not true that there is Arab silence; there is real and complete partnership in this particularly the sides that signed agreements with Israel. They are working today on preparing the circumstances for the surrender of the resistance engaged in the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

The Hezbollah chief revealed that the war of 2006 was waged with Arab consent and request. “The Israelis were crystal clear when they revealed this and those Arab regimes cannot deny this because the Israelis might possess evidence on their collusion. This is what is happening today in Gaza. Not only those same Arab regimes are demanding Israel cuts the heads of the resistance forces, in fact they are helping the Zionist entity on this. We have heard from Israel that the magnitude of the Arab support to the war on Gaza well exceeds their support to the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006.”

Sayyed Nasrallah also attributed the internal division in Palestine to the same Arab regimes that want division to become internal strife.

He set as example the notorious decisions taken by the previous government in Lebanon against Hezbollah and a senior Muslim Shiite officer managing security at the airport on the fifth of May 2008 and which nearly dragged the country into civil war. “The previous government wouldn’t have taken those decisions on the fifth of May if it weren’t for the support of these Arab regimes. They don not feel embarrassed; they are convinced and committed to the scheme.”

His eminence added that “even on the political and media levels, no one is asking Arab regimes to open its fronts and fight, but the least they could do is to take a fair stance by not holding the victim responsible.”

“We have heard an Egyptian official blaming Hamas for the attack on Gaza. Can anyone believe that this is the position of an Arab official who said during the blockade of Gaza: ‘We’ll break the feet of anyone who will set foot in Egypt? Is this the stance of an Egyptian official in the wake of the slaughter of more than 300 Palestinians in a short period of time?”

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit warned Hamas that Israel’s attack will not stop unless the resistance group stops firing rockets at occupied territories.

“Today we are hearing the same positions we heard in 2006 in terms of shouldering the resistance with the responsibility of breaking the war; this is shameful. Some Arab media outlets which should be called “Israeli media outlets” are dealing with the developments in Gaza as if the 300 martyrs were killed in a road accident; they broadcast the news and go back to regular programs as nothing is happening and the worst is that they insist on not calling those killed martyrs.”

Sayyed Nasrallah said that the Gazans have made their choice and they are practicing it through martyrdom and resistance, “just as you did in 2006; nothing stopped you from clinging to your rights and to the resistance.”

“What is the nation’s responsibility today? To triumph, the central objective is to work on stopping the aggression against Gaza and preventing the Israelis from achieving their goals. Arab peoples should press their governments to take action even if this leads to face their regimes with their chests. Those who would fall will definitely be martyrs on the road to Quds. Arab governments should not take weakness as a pretext not to act and Arab people should not take their government’s suppression as a pretext not to take action.
In our present time, the US is in a financial crisis and we have oil, money and political stature and our governments can stop the Israeli aggression with a humble effort. The Egyptian stand is the cornerstone. No one is asking it to open a front; we are asking it to open the Rafah crossing for the living, for food, for water and even for arms. In the war of 2006, Syria did not close its border with Lebanon despite the continuous bombing of the border. Egypt is is the “Mother of the World”; it is not the ‘Red Crescent’ to deal with Gaza like this. Egypt is requested not to exploit the war to pressure Hamas to yield to Israel’s conditions. If Egypt did not open the Rafah crossing to Gaza, he added, it would be considered an accomplice in the killing of Palestinians and they (Egyptian officials) should know that they will be in the circle of condemnation if they do not rush to take an honorable stance.”

The leader of the resistance urged the pride and noble people of Egypt “who we know what really lies in their hearts to take to the streets. If the people took to the streets by the millions, could the police kill millions of Egyptians? People of Egypt, you must open this crossing by the force of your chests," he said. “We know that Egyptian officers and soldiers adhere to their authentic Arab identity. I am not calling for a coup in Egypt, but those officers should tell their government that they are not with watching the Palestinian people being slaughtered while they guard Israel’s border. No one is justified today; the Egyptian stand can change the situation. If Gaza was steadfast for a few days or weeks, the aggression will eventually end because the Israeli enemy cannot tolerate war of attrition and will be forced to stop and abandon its goals.”

Sayyed Nasrallah criticized the sides that are calling for a fair and comprehensive peace with Israel. “I ask them: what has Israel given you except for more humiliation and more conditions? The Palestinians did not gain from Camp David the least rights to save face. It is really silly to believe that the international community will protect us through international resolutions, none of which was implemented by Israel. You say that Arab solidarity will protect us? Where is this Arab solidarity and they could not agree on a summit to address the situation in Gaza because of (Egyptian) reservations? What really protects our peoples and gains back our rights is the sincere resistance and everything else is mere illusion.”

As for Lebanon, Sayyed Nasrallah continued, “since the aggression on Gaza began, Barak, Livni and Olmert have been sending warnings to Lebanon and the Israeli army has been stepping up measures on the border and calling on settlers in the north to prepare their shelters. Hearing this, there are two options: the first is that everything the Israelis are saying and doing is in the framework of a pre-emptive measure; and the second is that they are planning for something. We should be aware that this bad timing amid Arab collusion, international void, economic crisis and US political vacuum between Bush and Obama, might allure Israel to take a certain action against Lebanon especially that they need to make such move for political and electoral gains.

This requires Lebanon to be cautious and not to underestimate what it happening around it. For instance, who placed the eight rockets discovered lately in the south? Some politicians in Lebanon have been pointing their fingers at us. But I tell them that Hezbollah has enough courage to take responsibility for any action it takes. On the other hand, isn’t it true that Israel has the capacity to infiltrate into Lebanon and plant these rockets, or maybe use its agents in Lebanon to do this job so that the Zionist entity would be justified to attack Lebanon? Unfortunately, some Lebanese politicians are giving Israel this pretext through their silly statements.

I have asked the brothers in the resistance in the south specifically to be present, on alert and cautious because we are facing a criminal enemy and we don't know the magnitude of the conspiracies being weaved around us."

Sayyed Nasrallah concluded his speech by calling on the Lebanese, Arabs and Muslims to act responsibly at this stage and exert every effort to stop the aggression on Gaza.

“Imam Sayyed Khamenei has called for mourning on Monday. We are concerned in this. For my part, I invite you to gather tomorrow at 1500 (local time) at the Raya field, men and women, young and old, to consolidate with Gaza and the martyrs. We have to make the whole hear our voice and see our fists rising. Tomorrow is Ashoura as well because every day is Ashoura and every land in Karbala.”


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Israel begins its much announced assault on Gaza - what is next? (UPDATED!)

Israel's lack of options - sympathy with the devil?

After weeks of rumors, speculations and not so veiled threats, Israel has finally begun its assault on the Gaza strip. Predictably, it began with F-16 airstrikes at "Hamas targets" and, equally predictably, the hospitals in Gaza are filling up with many casualties (190+ killed and many more wounded). Actually, this is the "least-bad" strategy for Israel as it makes it possible to achieve a number of simple objectives:

  • Destroying as much as possible of the Hamas infrastructure in Gaza thereby "softening up" Hamas in preparation of a ground assault
  • Killing a number of Hamas officials with the same aim as in above
  • Scaring the Palestinians in Gaza, think of it as an Israeli version of "shock and awe"
  • Exposing as little Israeli lives as possible (Hamas has proved that it can destroy Merkavas)
  • Scoring political brownie points with the Israeli public opinion by appearing "firm" and "doing something"

So far so good, but what comes next?! There the outlook for Israel looks much much bleaker and the choice of easy options rapidly shrinks to very little. Let's look at four basic possible options the Israelis can pick from:

Gradually phasing out the attacks and come back to some kind of deal with Hamas:

While otherwise not unreasonable, this option is unlikely to be very attractive for the Israelis for a simple reason: it solves nothing, it only freezes the conflict and pushes the hard and inevitable decisionmaking time further in the future. In this logical, the current airstrikes are just a way to bring Hamas to the negotiating table assuming, of course, that that kind of strikes would somehow inspire the Palestinians to accept living in the biggest concentration camp on the planet.

Sustaining an air campaign against Gaza for a long(er) period of time:

Think of it has "crowd control with F-16s", only unlike what the Americans are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the Israeli politicians this is always an attractive choice - killing Palestinians in great numbers while not risking spilling "Jewish blood". First problem with this option: F-16 tend to run out of targets very fast, at least when they are used for crowed control. Second problem, this gives no incentive whatsoever to Hamas to do anything but increasing the tempo of its missile strikes at Isarel. Third, this is a PR disaster for the already universally despised "only democracy in the Middle-East". Lastly, this "solution" really solves nothing, it's just a more brutal version of the first option (freezing the conflict).

Initiated a limited invasion of Gaza

The danger of that option is immediately apparent to any Israeli politician: the loss of "Jewish life". Even a limited invasion of Gaza is absolutely guaranteed to result in the death of Israeli soldiers. Still most Jews could be convinced to accept these deaths if they believe that less Jewish lives would be at risk from doing something than from doing nothing. Problem - even once postulated that some limited Jewish casualties are acceptable this option seems devoid of any real military rationale. Think of it, what could be achieved in such a limited attack? As the example of Falludjah has shown, Hamas forces will have no difficulty redeploying deep into Gaza if pressed hard and while in normal warfare retreats are very dangerous to execute, in the mostly urban condition of the Gaza strip Hamas forces will, no doubt, be able to pull back very safely when needed (remember how much time Hamas had to prepare for this invasion). Just "squeezing" Gaza around the edges makes no sense at all, and its not like Hamas needs to get right to the edge of Gaza to fire its rockets (and even short range rockets could then be re-directed at Israeli forces participating in the operation). As with all the options above, the "limited invasion" option achieves nothing real. It could be a feel-good "psychotherapy" for the insecure Israeli public, but the feel-good effect would not last very long.

A full-scale invasion of Gaza

That's the big one, the option which definitely change the situation on the ground, doubt here, but would it change it for better?

First, that means taking on about 15'000 Hamas fighters plus another 1'000-1'5000 Iz al-Din al-Qassam operators and taking them on in a highly prepared urban environment in the midst of 1'500'000 Palestinians fully supportive of Hamas. Even if Hamas fighter are nowhere near the level of capability of Hezbollah operators, taking them on inside Gaza is a highly nontrivial task. This could also take a lot of time with no easy, fast, victory to show for. Even if the Israelis managed to fully occupy Gaza and take control of all its main objectives, there would be enough Hamas fighters left in the Strip to immediately initiate a resistance campaign. Then there is the issue of the inevitable civilian toll that such an invasion would result in. Of course, Israeli Jews don't give a damn about killing Palestinians, but just imagine the PR disaster such a butchery would result in for the "only democracy in the Middle East which shares our Western values"! No amount of alarmist warnings about the "new Antisemitism" or the "next Holocaust" will help cover up the horrors of a full-scale invasion of Gaza (although a major war elsewhere, say between India and Pakistan, or another well-timed "9/11" might do the trick).

A full-scale invasion of Gaza also begs the question of the end result sought. To put the Israelis back in charge of a Mega-prison with 1'500'000 Palestinian inmates? That would mean taking on the responsibility of the conditions inside the strip - a logistical nightmare even if taken on only for propaganda purposes.

No, short of simply killing them all, or at least most of them, there is no workable "solution" for the Gaza problem the Israelis are faced with. Nor do they have a solution for the "Hezbollah problem" in Lebanon, or the "Arab problem" inside Israel problem. Heck, I would even argue that Abbas and his Fatah thugs have outlived their utility and that soon there will be an equally frustrating "West Bank problem" for the Israeli leaders to tackle.

The reality is simple - Israel is running straight into the wall of reality: there is no way a state based on racism and violence can survive in the long term. To cling on to their racist dream of a "Jewish state" the Israeli Jews need to come to terms with the fact that the only way to achieve this is to kill or deport the vast majority of Palestinians and that is simply not an achievable goal to begin with. Even more importantly - there is only one viable alternative to the murder or deportation of most Palestinians: giving up the sick dream nightmare of a "Jewish state" and accepting the inevitability of the "One State Solution" of a single, unitary state based on the simple "one man one vote" (the "Two State" nonstarter has already petered out before even coming into existence).

I don't think that the Israeli Jews are anywhere near coming to accept the inevitability of a non-racist "one state", not by a long margin, thus the utterly senseless violence with continue *without* any kind of real strategy or vision behind it.

Remember who is ruling Israeli today (at least formally): Ehud Olmert, the guy who totally FUBARed Israel's idiotic war against Lebanon in 2006. This guys is a born looser, somebody in the same league as Dubya or Saakashvili - expect nothing even remotely reasonable from him. Would Livni & Co. do any better? I don't think so. I think of Livni as the "Israeli Obama", "racist imperialism with a human face": same ugly policies - different person in charge of promiting them.

Olmert and Livni will kill Palestinians simply because that is what they are capable of. There is no need at all for any long-term strategy: the Israelis are not "result oriented" - they have, for a long while already, become purely "activity oriented" with a basic and simple rationale: if there is a problem - let's just kill more Palestinians.

What is going on in Gaza is senseless. It is also an disgrace for all of civilized mankind who mostly just sits there and watches how the Zionists are going berserk killing and maiming thousands of people in the futile pursuit of a sick racist fantasyland which will never happen.

And the end of this is nowhere in sight.

The Saker

UPDATE 1: According to al-Manar, the number of victims is now as high as 225+ dead and another 700+ wounded. There can be no doubt now that Israel has committed major war crimes (again, what else is new?).

Al-Jazeera report about the first day of bombings in the Gaza strip:

Hamas press conference video:

Iranian TV reports about the carnage in Gaza:

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Is Israel about to re-invade Gaza?

al-Manar reports:

Israeli Army Gets Green Light for Gaza Operation

The Israeli defense establishment is currently preparing for a military move against Hamas targets in Gaza after it received the green light Wednesday from the Israeli Cabinet.

During a cabinet meeting about the situation in and outside the Gaza Strip, a senior Israeli occupation army officer gave ministers in attendance an overview of the potential retaliatory moves that the defense establishment is planning against Hamas' regime. A media blackout was declared on the deliberations.

By late morning Wednesday, the Magen David Adom rescue service declared its highest level of alert.

An Israeli official told Israeli daily Haaretz that Israel's response will go beyond the air raid, "Our response will be substantial and painful to Hamas," the official said.

Most strikes will come from the air and be aimed at facilities believed to be of strategic importance to Hamas' political and military leadership. However, the officer said that weather conditions are currently preventing the air force from launching the raids.

According to officials in Tel Aviv, the overview also included a special reference to the possible implications of attacking Hamas.

"We are not eager to strike, but we will not hesitate to act," one official said. "If Hamas is looking for noise, we will make Gaza very noisy."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government claimed it had shown restraint until now but vowed to act if the salvoes continued.

The same official said that Israel would be willing to extend the June cease-fire, which expired last week, if Hamas would agree to resume it.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is expected to arrive on Thursday in Cairo for a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, whose administration helped facilitate the cease-fire. Sources close to Livni said she intended to tell Mubarak that Israel will not accept Hamas' current terms for a ceasefire. Hamas' statements also contained a similar mix of threats and assurances.

Meir Yifrach, head of Sdot Negev Regional Council, said that the current situation was intolerable and that "the people of the southern region of Israel are demanding that the government order the army to act in Gaza so that civilian life may be allowed to return to normal."

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday night that he had ordered the Israeli army to prepare itself to deliver a "response" to the rocket attacks fired by the Islamic resistance groups in Gaza. He said Hamas was responsible and would pay a price.

"Anyone who hurts Israeli civilians or soldiers will pay the price in a big way," Barak said in an interview on a Channel 2 talk show. "We will bring the solution, and we will not let this situation continue."

Israeli defense officials said the army now had approval for a number of operations that would likely include heavy air strikes against Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets, as well as pinpoint ground operations against resistance infrastructure.

The ambiguity about the timing of an army operation was in line with what Olmert told the security cabinet on Sunday - that Israel would not give Hamas a "promo" of when and how it would respond.

However, hints that Israel's response was well on the way could be found in a statement a government official released after the four-hour security cabinet meeting.

"Hamas bears sole responsibility for the deterioration in the South. They deliberately undermined the understandings reached through Egypt, and they acted to destroy the calm," the official said, in what sounded like an explanation to the world of why Israel needed to act.

Meanhile, the Palestinian resistance factions said that more than 70 mortar shells and Katyusha and Kassam rockets pounded the Negev. The barrage hit communities throughout the South, reaching as far north as Ashkelon and as far south as Kerem Shalom. At least two Grad-model Katyusha rockets were fired into Ashkelon on Wednesday, and a Kassam with extended range hit Netivot. Nearly 60 settlers were treated for emotional trauma and anxiety.

"Hamas will hit not only Sderot, but also what lies beyond Sderot," Hamas legislator Mushir al-Masri said, in a possible reference to extended ballistic capabilities.

Other spokespeople said the organization will agree to "resume" the ceasefire, if the organization's conditions are met. Hamas is demanding an improved ceasefire agreement that also includes the West Bank.

In a statement by Hamas' military wing, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, a spokesperson warned that "thousands of additional Israelis will soon be within the range of our rockets if Israel continues with its aggression."

"The residents of the south will stay in the bomb shelters for a long time," the Hamas statement continued, adding that "threats of an [Israeli] military offensive don't scare us because we are more prepared than ever."

All Israeli towns within a 30-kilometer radius of the Gaza Strip were hooked up on Wednesday to an early warning system designed to deliver rocket launch alerts. Among the newly-connected towns and cities are Ofakim and Netivot.

Ashdod, with its center just outside the 30-kilometer mark, is expected to be connected to the system within the next 24 hours. Some towns are already connected to the "Color Red" system, which alerts residents living within a seven-kilometer radius of the Strip.