Gideon Levy writes:
All at once the last doubts have disappeared and the question marks have become exclamation points. Dr. Ezzeldeen Abu Al-Aish wrote a short book in which he invented the killing of his three daughters. The 29 dead from the Al-Simoni family are now vacationing in the Caribbean. The white phosphorus was only the pyrotechnics of a war film. The white-flag wavers who were shot were a mirage in the desert, as were the reports about the killing of hundreds of civilians, including women and children. “Cast lead” has returned to being a phrase in a Hanukkah children’s song.
A surprising and unexplained article in The Washington Post by Richard Goldstone caused rejoicing here, a Goldstone party, the likes of which we haven’t seen for a long time. In fact, Israeli PR reaped a victory, and for that congratulations are in order. But the questions remain as oppressive as ever, and Goldstone’s article didn’t answer them – if only it had erased all the fears and suspicions.
Anyone who honored the first Goldstone has to honor him now as well, but still has to ask him: What happened? What exactly do you know today that you didn’t know then? Do you know today that criticizing Israel leads to a pressure-and-slander campaign that you can’t withstand, you “self-hating Jew”? This you could have known before.
Was it the two reports by Judge Mary McGowan Davis that led to your change of heart? If so, you should read them carefully. In her second report, which was published about a month ago and for some reason received no mention in Israel, the New York judge wrote that nothing indicates that Israel launched an investigation into the people who designed, planned, commanded and supervised Operation Cast Lead. So how do you know which policy lay behind the cases you investigated? And what’s this enthusiasm that seized you in light of the investigations by the Israel Defense Forces after your report?
You have to be a particularly sworn lover of Israel, as you say you are, to believe that the IDF, like any other organization, can investigate itself. You have to be a blind lover of Zion to be satisfied with investigations for the sake of investigations that produced no acceptance of responsibility and virtually no trials. Just one soldier is being tried for killing.
Electronic Intifada reports:
As Palestinians were preparing for their weekend this Thursday afternoon, all of a sudden barrages of Israeli artillery fire and air raids by warplanes struck several regions of the Gaza Strip. Five Palestinians were killed and about thirty more injured.
Israeli shells struck farm land, homes, a mosque and an ambulance, and the injured were evacuated to al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Kamal Adwan hospital in northern Gaza and the Abu Yousif al-Najjar hospital in southern Gaza.
At the admissions department at al-Shifa hospital, Muhammad al-Madhoun, a journalist, told The Electronic Intifada how he was injured by a huge explosion as he sat at a relative’s home in the al-Saftawi neighborhood in northern Gaza.
“All of a sudden, we heard an explosion and saw pillars of smoke. Then I felt I had a big strike on my head, then I saw nothing and put my hand on my back to find blood. I fell down on the floor and awoke to find myself at the hospital,” al-Madhoun said, surrounded by medical staff.
Sources at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City said that they received six injuries earlier this afternoon; among them were two women and several children.
The Iron Dome missile defense system on Thursday successfully intercepted for the first time a Grad rocket that was fired at the Israeli city of Ashkelon from the Gaza Strip.
Iron Dome’s success Thursday marks the first time in history a short-range rocket was ever intercepted.
According to reports from the area, the interception could be seen in Israeli towns near northern Gaza. The second Iron Dome battery was positioned in the area of Ashkelon over the weekend, in addition to a battery already placed north of Be’er Sheva.
Following the attack on the bus, in which a 16-year-old boy was seriously wounded and the bus driver was hurt moderately, a barrage of 15 rockets and mortars were fired at southern Israel, most of them hitting open areas.
Ahram Online reports:
Palestinian crossings official Raed Fattouh, who coordinates entry of goods between Israel and Gaza, said that Israeli authorities are prohibiting the passage of at least 700 goods into Gaza.
In a press statement Wednesday morning, Fattouh made clear that the Israeli Occupation Forces are preventing 50 per cent of Gaza imports to pass due to excuses that are unsubstantiated and unconvincing.
Fattouh pointed out that most of the prohibited material belongs to the building and construction sector, which increased the housing problem in the strip that had been piling up for four years.
The Washington Post reports:
The democratic uprisings that have swept through the Middle East will make it harder for Israel to reach a peace deal with Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said this week.
That stance puts Netanyahu at odds with others here, including his defense minister, who say the changes in the region add urgency to Israel’s pursuit of a peace accord. It will also dampen expectations that Netanyahu will use a visit to Washington next month to outline any bold new ideas about breaking a negotiating impasse.
“Any potential deal with the Palestinians has to account for the tremendous instability in the region,” Netanyahu said in an interview at his Jerusalem office. “The majority of the Israeli public wants to be sure those concessions don’t endanger Israel’s security.”
Netanyahu has always struck a cautious line on relinquishing more of the West Bank to Palestinian control and has long insisted on the need for strong security guarantees, such as maintaining an Israeli military presence in the disputed territory of the Jordan Valley, part of territory that Palestinians want for a future state. But the tumult in Jordan and Egypt makes him even more cautious about making concessions, a senior Israeli official said.
Al Jazeera reports:
Israeli troops have stormed Awarta village in the northern West Bank, arresting more than 100 women as they hunted the killers of an Israeli family from the illegal settlement of Itamar, officials said.
The military also used bulldozers to destroy Palestinian houses in a northern farming village east of Tubas, in an area under Israeli control, according to Palestinian security officials.
In Awarta, hundreds of troops entered the village shortly after midnight on Thursday and imposed a curfew after which they began rounding up women, many of whom were elderly, local council head Tayis Awwad told the AFP news agency.
They continued to carry out house-to-house searches through the night, he said.
The women were taken to a military camp where troops took their fingerprints – and DNA samples – before most were released, said the Palestinian sources.