Saturday 27 December 2008

Huge Protests Rally against Israeli Attacks on Gaza

Huge demonstrations have been organized in many countries protesting the Israeli savage aggression on Gaza strip on Saturday. Lebanon, Iran, Jordan and Ramallah have been protesting to show support or the people of Gaza condemning Israel for this inhumane operation.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah called for a huge protest outside Sayed Al-Shuhada'a complex in the Southern Suburb (Dahyeh) of Beirut at 3:30 (Beirut timing). Demonstrations also have been held at Ain el-Helwe refugee camp in Saida.
Dozens of youths hit the streets to express solidarity with the Palestinians and set fire to tires.

Hundreds of protesters in the Jordanian capital of Amman demonstrated in front of the nearby U.N. headquarters, waving Hamas banners and condemning Israel's strikes.

In Syria's al-Yarmouk camp, outside Damascus, dozens of Palestinians also protested the attack as well, vowing to continue fighting Israel. "It's a Zionist holocaust, but it won't dissuade us from going on with our struggle to achieve our goals," said Ali Barakah, 42, one of the protesters.

Israel carried out a massive air strike across the Gaza Strip killing more than 155 Palestinians and injuring 200.

Russia, France decry Israel onslaught

Smoke billows from the Gaza Strip following Israeli air strikes on Saturday.

Russia and France demand Israel to immediately to stop its attacks on the Gaza Strip, where at least 180 Palestinians have been killed.

"Russia believes it is necessary to halt immediately the large-scale acts of force against the Gaza Strip, which have already caused considerable victims and suffering amongst the Palestinian population," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released Saturday.

Earlier in the day, Israel F16 bombers and apache helicopters launched at least 30 coordinated onslaughts on nearly the same number of targets in the Gaza City. The strikes have killed at least 180 Palestinians and wounded 800 others.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Tel Aviv to disengage its military aircraft, which have pounded the Palestinian Hamas' headquarters.

"The President of the Republic expresses his profound concern at the escalation of violence in the south of Israel and the Gaza Strip. He strongly condemns the irresponsible provocations which led to this situation as well as the disproportionate use of force," the Elysee Palace said n a statement.

Shadow of death spreads over Gaza

Israeli helicopters fly over the Gaza Strip for a second round of attacks after killing at least 180 people in their previous attack.

Military gunboats have also been approaching the coastal territory, witnesses told Press TV on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, Israeli aircraft launched a massive offensive against the territory, killing at least 180 people and wounding hundreds others.

The death toll, mostly civilians according to the Palestinian Hamas, is expected to rise.

The Israeli Army announced Saturday that the airstrikes "will continue, will be expanded, and will deepen if necessary," the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported.

Meanwhile, Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Gaza radio that the movement "will continue resistance until the last drop of blood."

The movement also urged its members to take retaliatory measures against Israel.

"We call on all units to avenge with force against the enemy," a Hamas spokesman said in a message broadcast on the radio.

A six-month Egypt-mediated truce between Israel and Hamas expired on Tuesday, after which the two sides clashed along the border fence in northern Gaza. Three Palestinians were killed during the attacks.

Hamas responded by firing mortar shells and rockets into the Israeli occupied territories. The six Qassam rockets fired from Gaza into western Negev caused no casualties and no property damage.

Israel now claims that its recent military incursions are directed at bringing to end rocket attacks launched by Palestinian factions.

Cameraman dies of Israeli wounds

Palestinian cameraman Hamza Shahin

A Palestinian cameraman has died of wounds sustained two weeks ago when the Israeli army targeted resistance fighters in the Gaza strip.

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Friday that the Palestinian cameraman, Hamza Shahin, died in a Beit Hanoun hospital in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Shahin, 21, was working with the Shihab Media Agency in the Gaza Strip and he remained in a critical condition at the Intensive Care Unit in al-Shifa Medical Center until he died of his wounds on Friday, International Middle East Media Center said.

Suheib Shihada, head of the Shihab Media Agency, condemned the Israeli attack and said that the Israeli occupation intentionally targets media staff in order to silence them.

Last week, a Press TV cameraman was shot by Israeli soldiers with a rubber bullet and Press TV's correspondent was knocked unconscious by teargas in Nilin where Palestinians are protesting the Israeli 'apartheid wall'.

In July, Israeli forces shot and killed a cameraman with Associated Press Television News who was filming clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus where Israeli troops raid Palestinians and arrest them on a daily basis. The APTN cameraman died of a bullet wound to the head.

Last month, in a move in violation of press freedom, the Israeli regime banned foreign journalists from entering the Gaza strip, where the impoverished Palestinians have been experiencing harsh conditions due to suffocating blockade aimed at weakening the Hamas government in the coastal area.

Israel says it has imposed the tight blockade to force Palestinians to halt rocket attacks from the region.

Hamas resistance movement took control of the Gaza Strip in mid-June 2007 after it had overwhelmingly won in the 2006 parliamentary elections.

The Islamic movement does not recognize Israel as a legitimate state.

The blockade however has failed to reduce Hamas popularity among Palestinians in general and Gazans in particular as a recent Israeli National Security Council assessment urged Tel Aviv to hinder "elections in the Palestinian Authority, even at the cost of a confrontation with the US and the international community" because the upcoming elections in the Palestinian Authority might lead to Hamas victory.

Ahmadinejad's Christmas Message (Channel 4 UK)

Mary Rizzo

The news in Italy always makes space for two Christmas speeches, that of the Pope and that of the Queen of Great Britain. This year, they decided to give some space to the speech reserved for Ahmadinejad by Channel 4. They claimed it was anti-Semitic. "How strange," I thought. I got the link in the email by four friends who are great humanitarians and have not a cell of race hatred or religious hatred in their bodies. Why would they, of all people, send it to me saying that I would find it very interesting even if I was not a religious person. One of them told me it would be very positive in furthering the ecumenical closeness between Christians and Muslims and that it should be interpreted, especially in a Europe that wants to stress its "Christian Roots", as a recognition of the positive qualities of Christianity as a religion not of conquest but of peace.

In fact, the few lines quoted on the news sounded like the Pope's speech! I realise he was initially labelled as a Nazi or something, but as a Catholic Pope, he believes that the message of Christ is a timeless message for humanity as well as the path that leads to salvation.

Here;s what some of the UK critics had to say:

Labour MP Louise Ellman, chairwoman of the Labour Jewish Movement, said: “I condemn Channel 4’s decision to give an unchallenged platform to a dangerous fanatic who denies the Holocaust, while preparing for another, and claims homosexuality does not exist while his regime hangs gay young men from cranes in the street.
“Who will deliver next year’s alternative Christmas message? Will it be David Irving or Robert Mugabe?”

Well, let's see the message from this dangerous fanatic and judge how radically racist, homophobic, holocaust denying regime leader has decided to communicate thoughts about Christmas to the British public.

Read the translation of the Alternative Christmas Message, delivered by the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Upon the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Son of Mary, the Word of God, the Messenger of mercy, I would like to congratulate the followers of Abrahamic faiths, especially the followers of Jesus Christ, and the people of Britain.

The Almighty created the universe for human beings and human beings for Himself.

He created every human being with the ability to reach the heights of perfection. He called on man to make every effort to live a good life in this world and to work to achieve his everlasting life.

On this difficult and challenging journey of man from dust to the divine, He did not leave humanity to its own devices. He chose from those He created the most excellent as His Prophets to guide humanity.

All Prophets called for the worship of God, for love and brotherhood, for the establishment of justice and for love in human society. Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice.

All the problems that have bedevilled humanity throughout the ages came about because humanity followed an evil path and disregarded the message of the Prophets.

Now as human society faces a myriad of problems and a succession of complex crises, the root causes can be found in humanity's rejection of that message, in particular the indifference of some governments and powers towards the teachings of the divine Prophets, especially those of Jesus Christ.

The crises in society, the family, morality, politics, security and the economy which have made life hard for humanity and continue to put great pressure on all nations have come about because the Prophets have been forgotten, the Almighty has been forgotten and some leaders are estranged from God.

If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.

If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.

If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime. The solution to today's problems is a return to the call of the divine Prophets. The solution to these crises is to follow the Prophets - they were sent by the Almighty for the good of humanity.

Today, the general will of nations is calling for fundamental change. This is now taking place. Demands for change, demands for transformation, demands for a return to human values are fast becoming the foremost demands of the nations of the world. The response to these demands must be real and true. The prerequisite to this change is a change in goals, intentions and directions. If tyrannical goals are repackaged in an attractive and deceptive package and imposed on nations again, the people, awakened, will stand up against them.

Fortunately, today, as crises and despair multiply, a wave of hope is gathering momentum. Hope for a brighter future and hope for the establishment of justice, hope for real peace, hope for finding virtuous and pious rulers who love the people and want to serve them – and this is what the Almighty has promised.

We believe, Jesus Christ will return, together with one of the children of the revered Messenger of Islam and will lead the world to love, brotherhood and justice. The responsibility of all followers of Christ and Abrahamic faiths is to prepare the way for the fulfilment of this divine promise and the arrival of that joyful, shining and wonderful age. I hope that the collective will of nations will unite in the not too distant future and with the grace of the Almighty Lord, that shining age will come to rule the earth.

Once again, I congratulate one and all on the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. I pray for the New Year to be a year of happiness, prosperity, peace and brotherhood for humanity. I wish you every success and happiness."

Mary Rizzo is an art restorer, translator and writer living in Italy. Editor and co-founder of Palestine Think Tank, co-founder of Tlaxcala translations collective. Her personal blog is Peacepalestine.

Israeli missiles target Gaza

A wounded man is carried away in Gaza City during Israeli missile attacks. Photograph: Suhaib Salem/REUTERS

Israel has launched air strikes on Hamas installations across the Gaza Strip, killing at least 140 people and causing heavy damage, according to officials and witnesses.

At least 30 missiles were fired at targets on Saturday, with the head of emergency services in Gaza saying that at least 200 people were also wounded.

Hamas and other affiliated Palestinian groups said they have ordered their fighters to avenge the Israeli attack.

Among those killed in Israel's latest offensive was Tawfiq Jabber, the Gaza police chief.

Islam Shahwan, a Hamas police spokesman, said the missiles hit a police graduation ceremony in Gaza City.

The Hamas-run interior ministry said all security compounds in Gaza have been destroyed.

The unprecedented number of simultaneous strikes were described as "massive" by the AFP news agency.

'War crimes'

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of Fatah, condemned the "aggression" in Gaza.

Mousa Abu Morzouz, the deputy leader of Hamas, told Al Jazeera: "Until now the aggression didn't stop ... they are targeting all the police headquarters and offices.

"We will defend out people, we will retaliate against this aggression ... our military will retaliate."

Marzouz called on the international community to condemn the attacks: "Nobody in this world can accept what happened and the Israeli aggression ... [we expect] the international community to stand agasint this and say that it is not acceptable."

Mustafa Barghauthi, former Palestinian information minister, said; "This is not an attack on the Hamas. Its an attack on the whole population and the free will of the people of Gaza.

He accused Israel of committing "war crimes" and demanded that Abbas and his government stop all relations with Israel.

'Only just beginning'

The Israel army released a statement saying "terrorist installations" were hit and that all Israeli pilots returned unharmed.

The operation against the Hamas is "only just beginning," Avi Benayahu, an Israeli military spokesman said.

The air raids follow the decision by the Israeli security cabinet to increase reprisals for cross-border rocket attacks against Israel, and the breakdown of a six-month-old Israel-Hamas truce earlier this month.

Hamas ended the ceasefire saying that Israel had violated the truce the truce by preventing vital food and medical supplies into the Gaza Strip.

Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Gaza, said: "A series of explosions were heard over Gaza City.

"From where we are there are at least seven different clouds of smoke from the strikes.

"We are seeing some casualties being evacuated in cars."

Mohyeldin said that Hamas, who rule the Gaza Strip, was being held responsible by Israel for any attacks from the territory into Israel, even if they are undertaken by other Palestinian factions.

Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Jerusalem, said that Israel's decision to strike at this moment was down to Hamas withdrawing from the ceasefire and the intensified rocket fire coming from the Gaza Strip in recent days.

"In one day [in the past week] we saw 80 rockets ... which is a huge upsurge," she said.