"Am I therefore become your enemy,because I TELL YOU THE TRUTH...?"
(Galatians 4:16)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

QUAKEWATCH:Deadly Series of Quakes Hit Indonesia;Looking for victims...

JAKARTA, Indonesia-A series of powerful earthquakes at dawn Sunday killed at least four people and injured dozens more in remote eastern Indonesia, cutting power lines and destroying buildings.One of the quakes-a 7.3-magnitude tremor-sent small tsunamis into Japan's southeastern coast, but there were no reports of damage there and no tsunami in Indonesia's impoverished Papua area.....
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Obama keeps silent on explosive Gaza conflict

As the clock ticks down to Barack Obama's inauguration, the US president-elect has kept silent on the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its latest deadly turn in the Gaza Strip. Obama transition officials have ventured little more than saying their boss is "monitoring" the situation in Gaza, where at least 460 people have been killed in eight days of air raids before a ground offensive began Saturday.In the same period, Gaza militant rockets have killed four Israelis and wounded several dozen people."The president-elect is closely monitoring global events, including the situation in Gaza," his national security spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said in a statement after the ground assault got underway. But she offered no further comment on the violence in Gaza and used a phrase repeated often by Obama and his aides: "There is one president at a time and we intend to respect that."Senior advisor David Axelrod said Sunday that Obama is "committed" to achieving peace in the Middle East,in the only extended comments from the president-elect's team so far. "Obviously, this situation has become even more complicated in the last couple of days and weeks...But it's something that he's committed to," Axelrod told CBS television.Obama transition team officials told AFP the president-elect would not comment publicly in the coming days on the Gaza offensive, and the future president will likely keep silent on the issue until his January 20 inauguration.His muted response has already drawn the anger of some in the Middle East."The start is not good," said Khaled Meshaal, leader of the Hamas Islamist movement that has ruled Gaza since June 2007."You commented on Mumbai but you say nothing about the crime of the enemy (Israel). This policy of double standards should stop."Obama will be hard pressed to address the conflict, the worst in the region since the summer 2006 war in Lebanon and the latest addition to the growing list of foreign policy crises on his agenda....
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PS:BHO=A living joke....

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Hamas Spokesman To Israeli Army: ‘Gaza Will Be Your Cemetery’

"We will not abandon the battlefield, and we will stay on the thorny course and we will fight until the last breath," Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan said in a statement on the Palestinian television station Al-Aqsa.

Europe at odds over Israeli land offensive in Gaza

PARIS-France condemned an Israeli land assault in the Gaza Strip on Saturday just hours after the Czech presidency of the European Union said the action was "defensive, not offensive".The conflicting statements suggested disunity among European partners ahead of separate visits to the region by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and an EU delegation led by Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.France, which handed the EU presidency to the Czechs on Jan. 1, has led calls for a ceasefire and hosted a meeting of EU foreign minsters to reinforce the message on Tuesday.Israeli troops clashed with Hamas forces on Saturday as columns of tanks backed by helicopters advanced into Gaza under darkness, a Palestinian witness said.In Prague, Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik said Israel, which launched air bombardments against Gaza a week ago in retaliation against rocket attacks from the Hamas-controlled area, appeared to be acting defensively."At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action," he said.Saeb Erekat, aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called for the world to condemn the Czech position."This is a vicious aggression against our people. The international community cannot stand silent...This position (by the European Union’s Czech presidency) deserves condemnation," told Al Arabiya television.The French Foreign Ministry said: "France condemns the Israeli ground offensive against Gaza as it condemns the continuation of rocket firing."It said the "dangerous military escalation" complicated efforts to end the fighting and bring aid to the area.Further underlining the impression of European division, a British government source said of the Czech statement: "It is not the position of the British government."In London, British Foreign Minister David Miliband urged both Israel and Hamas to agree to stop hostilities."Unfolding events show the urgent need for the immediate ceasefire that we have called for. The escalation of the conflict will cause alarm and dismay," he said in a statement.Israeli troops and tanks had been massed on the border for days in readiness for an invasion as Israeli firepower pounded Gaza from land, sea and air and diplomatic efforts to arrange a ceasefire stalled.
By James Mackenzie
As in the days of Noah...

Israeli Troops Rolling Into Gaza

Israeli Troops in Gaza:Spokesman for the Israeli Embassy on the Crisis

EU presidency: Israel ground op in Gaza 'defensive not offensive'

PRAGUE-European Union president, the Czech Republic, said Saturday an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza was "defensive, not offensive" action."At the moment, from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action,"Czech EU presidency spokesman Jiri Potuznik said.Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is leading an EU delegation to the region Sunday, and Potuznik said the presidency will wait to see the results of that visit.Israel sent troops into Gaza on Saturday evening, eight days after launching air strikes on the coastal strip, which came in the wake of a breakdown in a six-month truce with Gaza's Hamas rulers. Dozens of rockets have been fired at Israel's southern communities over the past two weeks, killing four Israelis. The air strikes in Gaza have killed at least 420 Gazans, according to Palestinian reports. U.S. President George W. Bush on Friday branded the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel an act of terror and outlined his own condition for a cease-fire in Gaza, saying no peace deal would be acceptable without monitoring to halt the flow of smuggled weapons to terrorist groups.
By Haaretz Service and Reuters
As in the days of Noah...

Arabs Demand UN Call for Immediate Cease-fire

US blocks UN Security Council action on Gaza

UNITED NATIONS – The United States late Saturday blocked approval of a U.N. Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel and expressing concern at the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas.U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said the United States saw no prospect of Hamas abiding by last week's council call for an immediate end to the violence. Therefore, he said, a new statement at this time "would not be adhered to and would have no underpinning for success, would not do credit to the council."France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, the current council president, announced that there was no agreement among members on a statement. But he said there were "strong convergences" among the 15 members to express serious concern about the deteriorating situation in Gaza and the need for "an immediate, permanent and fully respected cease-fire."Arab nations demanded that the council adopt a statement calling for an immediate cease-fire following Israel's launch of a ground offensive in Gaza earlier Saturday, a view echoed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.Libya's U.N. Ambassador Giadalla Ettalhi, the only Arab member of the council, said the United States objected to "any outcome" during the closed council discussions on the proposed statement.He said efforts were made to compromise and agree on a weaker press statement but there was no consensus.

By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press Writer
"Council fails to reach Gaza consensus":
UK ambassador on UN's Gaza stance:
As in the days of Noah...

QUAKEWATCH:Tsunami Warning Issued After 7.8 Magnitude Quake Strikes Indonesia

Indonesia is on tsunami watch after the region was rocked by an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8. The National Weather Service reports that the earthquake occurred in the Irian Jaya region of the country.A tsunami warning was issued for countries bordering the Pacific Ocean, except for the coasts of Canada and the United States....
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As in the days of Noah.......

Hamas leader says it ready to confront Gaza invasion

GAZA-Hamas's top leader warned Israel its army would be defeated if it invaded the Gaza Strip, while the United States said it envisioned a ceasefire with international monitoring that would ensure the Islamist group could not rearm.Israeli armored forces remained poised on the Gaza border for a possible ground operation, a week after Israel launched devastating air strikes with the declared aim of ending rocket attacks on its southern towns.Gaza medical officials put the Palestinian casualty toll at least 429 dead and 2,000 wounded.A United Nations agency said more than a quarter of those killed in the Gaza Strip were civilians. A leading Palestinian human rights group put the figure at 40 percent.In Damascus, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal sounded a defiant note in a televised speech."We are ready for the challenge, this battle was imposed on us and we are confident we will achieve victory because we have made our preparations," Meshaal said.A Palestinian official has told Reuters that Egypt had begun exploratory talks with Hamas to stop the fighting...
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
As in the days of Noah....

Israeli Troops Enter Gaza:Live Report as Ground Troops Enter Gaza

Hamas: Israel will pay heavy price for ground operation

"Israel will pay a heavy price" for Saturday's ground incursion, a spokesman for Hamas's military wing, Izzadin Kassam, said following what the IDF called the second stage of Operation Cast Lead, Channel 10 reported.This was the first response from Hamas to be heard since large forces entered the Strip.
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Barak admits ground incursion poses danger to soldiers

The decision to undertake a ground operation was made with the knowledge that soldiers would be at risk, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said several hours after ground troops began an incursion into the Gaza Strip."We know there will be dangers, difficulties and victims… It must be said that the ground operation entails dangers to the lives of soldiers," Barak said in a press conference early Saturday night.
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Israeli Ground Troops Enter Gaza:Raw Video

Top Iran official holds talks with Syria on Gaza violence

Syria's official news agency reported Saturday that a senior Iranian official visiting Damascus has held talks on Israel's weeklong offensive in Gaza with Syrian President Bashar Assad and leaders of radical Palestinian factions. The report added that chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili, also the secretary of Iran's powerful Supreme National Security Council, met Assad Saturday after he conferred late Friday with Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal and Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Abdullah Shallah. According to Army Radio, Meshal announced in his meeting with Jalili that "Israel will deeply regret any ground invasion into the Gaza Strip," and explained that "the determination and high tolerance of the people of Gaza has taken the Zionist enemy by surprise, and will continue to do so." The Hamas leader added that any cease-fire agreement "would have to include an immediate halt to Israeli aggression as well as an end to the siege on Gaza," Army Radio reported. Iran is a close ally of Syria and supports Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Meanwhile, Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has called on all Muslim states to send weapons to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to help protect them."The oppressed Palestinian people can stand up to Israel if they get political, financial support as well as weapons," he said after Friday prayers in Tehran. Rafsanjani's remarks, quoted by the official Iranian news agency, are noteworthy because they hint that Iran is transferring weapons to Hamas, something that Iran has never admitted. The former Iranian leader added that over the course of the last week, since Israel launched its assault on the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians in Gaza "have gained a large number of supporters, many of them interested in waging Jihad (holy war) against israel." Rafsanjani went on to declare that any Israeli ground offensive in the Gaza Strip would be with resistance from Hamas, adding that Hamas has recently developed weapons capable of penetrating Israeli tanks.
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent and The Associated Press

Operation Cast Lead ground incursion commences

GAZA WARFARE DAY 8: Israeli troops and tanks entering Gaza as the IDF launches a ground offensive on Saturday. (AP)
Israeli ground forces enter Gaza in escalation:
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DEVELOPING: Israeli ground forces have begun moving across the border into the northern Gaza Strip in an escalation late Saturday night of the weeklong offensive against Hamas, according to reports citing Palestinian witnesses and Israeli officials. Witnesses in the Gaza Strip tell FOX News that troops are moving in-a development that Reuters described as a small column of Israeli military vehicles backed by combat helicopters. The incursion was confirmed to FOX News by Israeli defense officials.Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip had intensified Saturday evening and tanks began repositioning themselves around the border despite international efforts to secure a cease-fire and avert a ground war between Israel and Hamas.Israel launched the aerial campaign a week ago in a bid to halt weeks of intensifying Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza. The offensive has dealt a heavy blow to Hamas, but failed to halt the rocket fire.
FOX News' Mike Tobin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
Soldiers Exchange Fire with Hamas gunmen Inside Gaza Strip:

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Brainwashing hatred: Iranian toddlers taught about martyrdom in wake of Gaza op."


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Bush:Hamas attacks are acts of terror

US President George W. Bush on Friday branded the Hamas rocket attacks on Israel an "act of terror" and outlined his own condition for a cease-fire in Gaza, saying no peace deal would be acceptable without monitoring to halt the flow of smuggled weapons to terrorist groups.Bush chose his taped, weekly radio address to speak for the first time about Israel's military assault targeting Hamas in the Gaza Strip,which began last Saturday."The United States is leading diplomatic efforts to achieve a meaningful cease-fire that is fully respected,"Bush said. "Another one-way cease-fire that leads to rocket attacks on Israel is not acceptable. And promises from Hamas will not suffice - there must be monitoring mechanisms in place to help ensure that smuggling of weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza comes to an end."The White House released Bush's radio address one day early. It airs on Saturday morning.More than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed in the latest offensive. The UN estimated Friday that a quarter of the Palestinians killed were civilians.Bush also expressed deep concern about the humanitarian suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza, and blamed Hamas for the situation."By spending its resources on rocket launchers instead of roads and schools, Hamas has demonstrated that it has no intention of serving the Palestinian people," Bush said. "America has helped by providing tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid, and this week we contributed an additional $85 million through the United Nations. We have consistently called on all in the region to ensure that assistance reaches those in need."The White House has cautiously said Israel must be mindful of the toll its military strikes will have on civilians. Here, too, Bush blamed Hamas for hiding within the civilian population. "Regrettably, Palestinian civilians have been killed in recent days," he said.Bush offered no criticism of Israel, depicting the country's air assaults as a response to the attacks on its people. The White House will not comment on whether it views the Israeli response as proportionate or not to the scope of rockets attacks on Israel."This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas - a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel's destruction," Bush said. "Eighteen months ago, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a coup, and since then has imported thousands of guns and rockets and mortars. Egypt brokered a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, but Hamas routinely violated that cease-fire by launching rockets into Israel."The president said that Hamas ultimately ended the cease-fire altogether on Dec. 19 and "soon unleashed a barrage of rockets and mortars that deliberately targeted innocent Israelis - an act of terror that is opposed by the legitimate leader of the Palestinian people, President (Mahmoud) Abbas."In their waning days in power, Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have been working the phones with world allies to try organize a truce.International calls for a cease-fire have been growing. Increasingly, the conflict appears to be another one that President-elect Barack Obama will inherit when he takes office in Jan. 20. Rice on Friday briefed Bush on developments in Gaza but said she had no plans to make an emergency visit to the region.Bush promised to stay engaged with US partners in the Middle East and Europe and to keep Obama updated.


As in the days of Noah...

Israel Blasts Range of Hamas Targets

Israel continues its assault on Hamas militants in Gaza, bombing a range of targets even as an international truce appears to be gaining momentum...

Palestinian Police Ban Pro-Hamas Protests in Widening Crackdown on Violent Demonstrations

RAMALLAH, West Bank-Palestinian police violently cracked down on protests organized by their rivals in Hamas throughout the West Bank on Friday as rallies against Israeli air strikes in Gaza turned into demonstrations against the Palestinian Authority.Police of Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority pounced on demonstrators protesting seven days of heavy Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip targeting the militant Hamas movement. Security forces particularly focused on anyone carrying Hamas' green flags, a telling indication of Abbas' determination to thwart any challenges to its own rule in the West Bank from Hamas.Feelings are running high among Palestinians and across the Middle East against the strikes which have killed at least 400 Palestinians, including around 100 civilians, according to a U.N. estimate.Abbas, together with his allies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have blamed Hamas for bringing the attacks on themselves by repeatedly firing rockets into Israel. These criticisms, though, have angered many in the face of Israel's assaults."Abu Mazen is on the side of the Jews!" yelled 66-year-old Umm Maher at a small demonstration in east Jerusalem, referring to Abbas by his nickname.Israeli police quickly dispersed the few dozen protesters in that demonstration, but elsewhere, it was the security forces of the Palestinian Authority stopping the rallies against Israel's actions.In the southern West Bank city of Hebron, demonstrators who for decades had being throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers, now pelted Palestinian police after they tried to disburse 400 Hamas loyalists brandishing the movement's green flag."We will prohibit any signs and slogans that are hostile to the Palestinian Authority, and prohibit incitement," said Riyad Malki, Information Minister. "Security forces have been instructed to deal with these demonstrations."Police detained five Hamas supporters at a 3,000-strong demonstration in the central West Bank town of Ramallah and ripped up placards with pro-Hamas slogans."The more they try suppress us, the more popular we will become," vowed Muna Mansour, a prominent Hamas member.In several cases, the Palestinian police stopped protesters from approaching some of the Israeli checkpoints scattered around the West Bank, which youths target with rocks and firebombs.Demonstrators were shocked to suddenly find themselves clashing with their own police forces."When I saw the police coming with their batons, I thought of the Jews. They also don't deal with people except with clubs and live bullets," said Najiyeh Awdeh, a 50-year-old protester, referring to Israeli forces.
As in the days of Noah....

Israel Allows Some Gazans to Flee Bloodshed

Israel allowed several hundred Palestinians with foreign passports to flee Gaza on Friday. The evacuees told of water shortages, electricity and medicine, echoing a U.N. warning of a deepening humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip...

3 hurt as rockets hit buildings in South

As Operation Cast Lead moved into its second week, Palestinians showed no sign of ending their rocket attacks against Israel, firing at least 34 projectiles Saturday.In the latest attack, a Kassam rocket hit an open area in the Eshkol region on Saturday night. No one was wounded and no damage was reported.On Saturday evening, a woman sustained light shrapnel wounds when a rocket fired by Gaza terrorists hit a house in Netivot on Saturday afternoon(picture left).The house collapsed after the strike. Earlier, two people were lightly wounded when a Grad-type rocket slammed into an eight-story building in Ashdod. At least three other people on the scene were treated for shock.A number of other buildings were damaged by rockets Saturday.One rocket hit a cafeteria in a kibbutz on the Gaza periphery, another started a fire in the yard of a house in Ashkelon, a third hit a playground in the city, while a fourth damaged a building in the Ashkelon beach area. Netivot, Sderot, Gan Yavne, Kiryat Melachi, the Sha'ar Hanegev region, and the Eshkol region also reported rocket strikes.Nobody was wounded in any of the latter attacks.The morning volley followed a barrage of 36 rockets on Friday in which seven people were lightly wounded and three residential buildings were damaged.
As in the days of Noah...

Sakhnin:Over 10,000 protest Gaza action

Over 10,000 people demonstrated against Operation Cast Lead in the northern town of Sakhnin on Saturday, by far the biggest such protest in Israel so far.In fact, according to organizers, it was the largest protest held by the Israeli-Arab sector in many years.Marchers held Palestinian flags and even a smattering of green Hamas flags. They also held pictures of children said to have been killed during the IDF operation. There were no reports of violence.The protest opened with a minute silence, in memory of Palestinians killed in Gaza since the operation began. The event was attended by several Arab Knesset members including Muhammad Barakei (Hadash) and Jamal Zahalka (Balad), as well as Arab mayors and other public officials from the Arab sector.Zahalka demanded that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi be tried in an international tribunal for what he called "war crimes in Gaza".Meanwhile, Israel Beiteinu activists held counter demonstrations at four junctions in the North.During the protests at Megido, Mahanayim, Tishbi and Golani junctions, 100 demonstrators held signs and chanted slogans including, "No citizenship without loyalty!"Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Lieberman said that "in the same way that the Israeli government knows that it is impossible to stop the operation in Gaza until Hamas is eradicated,the government must act against those Israeli citizens who are not loyal to the State of Israel.""The demonstration in Sakhnin in which ten thousand protesters are participating proves that their loyalty is to Hamas and to those who want to destroy Israel," Lieberman continued.
As in the days of Noah...

IDF begins shelling northern Gaza for 1st time since op began

For the first time since the start of Operation Cast Lead, the IDF began firing artillery shells into northern Gaza on Saturday afternoon, IDF officials said.According to reports, the artillery units were attacking targets in northern Gaza from where Palestinian terrorists had been firing rockets at southern Israel.The shelling was seen as a possible signal that a ground invasion could be nearing.Warplanes, gunboats and artillery units blasted more than 40 Hamas targets throughout Saturday, including weapons storage facilities, training centers and Hamas leaders' homes.Air strikes that had waned during the day gathered pace after dark. One raid hit a mosque in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, killing 14 people and wounding 33, seven critically, according to a Palestinian health official.Other Palestinian reports claimed that the mosque was hit by an artillery shell.The IAF also hit the home of senior Hamas commander Abu Zacharia Al-Jamal. A Hamas spokesman announced that al-Jamal was killed in the attack, which would make him the third senior operative in the group to be targeted in the past three days.In addition, Palestinians reported four dead in an IAF strike in the Rafah area.Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Channel 2 Saturday night, "We will do all that is necessary to provide a different reality for southern Israel, which has been under constant attacks for the past eight years."Israeli defense officials said some 10,000 troops, including tank, artillery and special operations units, were massed on the Gaza border and prepared to invade. They said top commanders were split over whether to send in ground forces, in part because such an operation could lead to heavy casualties but also because they believed Hamas already had been dealt a heavy blow.The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were classified discussions.In Saturday morning attacks, the army struck the homes of two Hamas operatives, saying the buildings were used to store weapons and plan attacks. Hamas outposts, training camps and rocket launching sites also were targeted, it said.The army also struck the American International School, the most prestigious educational institution in Gaza. The school is not connected to the US government, but teaches an American curriculum in English.The airstrike demolished the school's main building and killed a night watchman. Two other Palestinians were killed in a separate airstrike, while three others died of wounds sustained earlier, Gaza health officials said.Earlier, the army dropped leaflets in downtown Gaza City ordering people off the streets. The warnings were followed by the air strikes.Hamas also declared on Saturday that its members had foiled an attempt by IDF special forces to infiltrate the Gaza Strip, Israel Radio reported.According to the report, a number of IDF soldiers were spotted in the outskirts of Gaza's Shajaiyeh neighborhood close to the border with Israel. Hamas claimed that the soldiers retreated after they were targeted by six mortar shells.The IDF denied the report, telling Army Radio that "this incident never happened."Earlier on Friday night, a Hamas television station said that the IAF on bombed an airport in the Gaza Strip. One person was reported dead in the attack, and five wounded.
As in the days of Noah...

Protesters in Washington Condemn Israeli Attacks

Thousands of protesters gathered in Washington to condemn Israel's attacks in Gaza. They marched from the Israeli embassy to the Egyptian embassy, and demonstrated against Egypt, too...

Thousands protest in Europe at Gaza offensive

LONDON-Thousands of chanting, banner-waving demonstrators marched in cities across Europe on Saturday to demand a halt to Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip.Protests were held or scheduled in Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain as the Israeli offensive entered its second week. Kuwaitis also took to the streets, a day after bigger Middle East rallies.In Paris, police said more than 20,000 demonstrators, many wearing Palestinian keffiyeh headscarves, marched through the city center chanting slogans like "Israel murderer!" and waving banners demanding an end to the air attacks.Similar protests were planned in some 30 other towns.London police said more than 10,000 people staged a noisy march and rally to urge an end to an Israeli offensive against Hamas militants that has killed at least 435 Palestinians.In many European cities people waved shoes-recalling the action of an Iraqi journalist who hurled footwear at U.S. President George W. Bush in Baghdad last month in a symbolic insult.British demonstrators threw dozens of shoes into the street as they passed the gated entrance to Downing Street, where Prime Minister Gordon Brown lives, and shouted angrily at a line of 40 police officers on guard there."Come to get your shoes Gordon," one woman shouted as other marchers directed chants of "Shame on you" at Brown.A spokesman said Brown had spoken again to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Saturday and was pressing hard for an immediate ceasefire.Leading the march were singer Annie Lennox, politicians Tony Benn and George Galloway and comic Alexei Sayle. Demonstrators carried Palestinian flags and placards with slogans such as "End the siege on Gaza" and "Stop the massacre."Israel says rocket attacks from Gaza by Hamas Islamists must stop before it halts operations, but the attacks continued on Saturday. Four Israelis have been killed by Hamas rockets since the offensive began.
Paul Mukerji, 42, from Birmingham, acknowledged Israel had security reasons but called its action disproportionate."The best way for peace for Palestinians and Israelis is to end the occupation," said Mukerji, who said he had spent six months working with Jewish and Palestinian peace groups.Ali Saeed, 24, from Luton, said Western governments had failed to condemn Israel's actions....
By Adrian Croft
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Friday, January 2, 2009


Hamas Woman:"Harm Zionist Girls...!"

Fatah:"Hamas Desecrates Islam"

Iran Warns Israel Not to Launch a Ground Op into the Gaza Strip

Iran warned Israel on Friday not to launch a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip as protests against the Israeli bombardment of the Hamas-run Palestinian territory, now in its seventh day, swept several Mideast capitals.The demonstrations began shortly after Friday prayers in Teheran, Cairo, Amman and Damascus. Similar protests have been held daily across since Israel launched the bombing campaign last Saturday, but these gatherings were larger-mainly because Friday prayers are a traditional opportunity for Muslims to assemble in great numbers.In Teheran, a crowd of about 6,000 stretching for a half-mile (kilometer) marched from prayers at Teheran University to Palestine Square, chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" and burning Israeli flagsThey also carried banners reading: "Don't kill Children" and "Real Holocaust is happening in Gaza," while some vowed to "fight and defend Gaza."Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of Iran's most powerful politician-clerics, said in a sermon to several thousand worshipers that an Israeli military defeat in Gaza would be a "scandal" for its government and that, even if the Hamas government there collapses, Palestinian "resistance" will only expand.Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned Israel that entering Gaza "by land will be the biggest mistake of the Zionist regime." He vowed Israel would be "defeated" in a ground attack.Iran is a major backer of Hamas, giving it millions of dollars.Israel and the US accuse Iran of providing the Palestinian terrorist group with newer, more sophisticated rockets, but Teheran denies arming the group. In his prayer sermon, Rafsanjani said Hamas had a new anti-tank weapon that it had not used before but would unleash if Israel ground troops move in, but he did not elaborate.US-allied Arab governments like Egypt fear that Hamas and Hizbullah are giving a foothold for Iran. They have been critical of Hamas - which took over Gaza in 2007 in battles with loyalists of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas - and of Syria for backing its allies Iran and Hamas.Pro-US governments have been wary about protests at home over Israel's Gaza assault, which has killed more than 400 Palestinians and sparked outrage among the Arab public. Israel says its offensive aims at silencing Hamas rockets.
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Deadly blasts in India's Assam state

Riots as Palestinian anger spreads

Palestinian terrorists suffer even more defeat in the court of public opinion...

Al Jazeera posted a poll with the question:
"Do you think Israel’s air strikes on the Gaza Strip are justified?"
The answers were--for sure-- a BIG SURPRISE for Al Jazeera....
They never saw it coming....
To read the results go to:
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Israeli Children Flee Palestinian Rocket Attack


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US Strike in Pakistan Kills At Least 3 Militants

Global terror attacks feared due to Gaza op:Counter-Terrorism Bureau warns of rise in tensions between Muslim, Jews worldwide in response to Operation

As the Israel Defense Forces' military operation in Gaza progresses, the defense establishment focuses on what is taking place in the Strip and in southern Israeli communities. But is the rise in tensions between Muslims and Jews worldwide being addressed?The Gaza operation may increase tremendously the danger for Israeli citizens and Jews living in different countries, even before mentioning the "promised revenge" by Hizbullah for the assassination of its commander Imad Mugniyah.A first concrete example for this danger was seen Wednesday in the Danish city of Odense, when an Arab man opened fire at an Israelis' stand at a local mall, lightly injuring two of them. Sources in the Foreign Ministry estimated that the act was carried out in response to Operation Cast Lead. Brigadier-General (Res.) Elkana Har-Nof of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau believes that the global terror organizations don't need the Gaza operation in order to find reasons for their activities against Israeli targets.Talking to Ynet, he stresses, however, that Operation Cast Lead may lead to a rise in a different type of threat – popular terrorism."The different between organized terror and popular terrorism is that the former may cause heavy damage and is led by extremely radical elements who also seek to create a great impact in the media."Popular terrorism, on the other hand, is led by citizens who are not affiliated with any army or organization. It's extremely difficult to warn against such incidents, which include stone throwing, stabbing attacks or even shootings. They may take place anywhere in the world where Jews and Muslims reside side by side," he says.According to Har-Nof, the incident in Denmark shows the direct link between the Gaza operation and the fear of a rise in popular terrorism. "Many Palestinians and Muslims worldwide are agitated following the current escalation and are ready to provoke and harm anything identified by them as Israeli.""The threat is permanent and we are on constant alert regardless of the operation," says Andy David of the Foreign Ministry. "Since Mugniyah's assassination we have boosted security at all Israeli consulates worldwide, and the alert level has been unchanged since then."We must be on high alert, regardless of the current situation. One must not get into arguments, stay away from demonstrations and refrain from expressing openly one's Israeli identity."
By Daniel Edelson

As in the days of Noah...

GAZA Protest - Auckland, New Zealand


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Muslim Family Kicked Off Of Plane After ‘Safest Seats’ Remark

"We generally like to sit in the middle because I've always been told that is the safest place to sit, but then my sister-in-law said it is actually safer to sit in the back of the airplane if anything should happen to the flight."

Muslims around the world protest Gaza assault

Iranian clerics attend an anti-Israel rally, wearing white shrouds indicating their willingness to give their lives to defend Gaza, after Friday prayers at the Felestin (Palestine) Sq. in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 2, 2009. Iran is warning Israel not to launch a ground offensive into Gaza as protests against the Israeli bombings of the Hamas-run area. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Egyptian security face protestors , who attempted to take to the streets after Friday prayers in Cairo, Egypt, Friday Jan. 2, 2009. Riot police and security vehicles peppered the surrounding streets preventing many worshippers and journalists from getting to Al Azhar mosque. At least two were injured during a scuffle. (AP Photo)

Iranian protestors attend an anti-Israel rally, after Friday prayers in Tehran, Iran, Friday, Jan. 2, 2009. Iran is warning Israel not to launch a ground offensive into Gaza as protests against the Israeli bombings of the Hamas-run area continue. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
TEHRAN, Iran-Thousands protested Friday against Israel's air offensive targeting the Hamas rulers of Gaza at demonstrations in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe.Similar protests have been held daily across the Middle East since Israel launched the bombing campaign last Saturday. But these gatherings held mostly after Friday prayers were larger-mainly because Friday prayers are a traditional gathering opportunity for Muslims-and seemed to be more far-reaching in the number of countries where protests occurred.The Israeli offensive has killed more than 400 Palestinians and sparked outrage among the Arab public. Israel says its offensive is aimed at silencing Hamas rockets.In Tehran, a crowd of about 6,000 stretching for a half-mile (kilometer) marched from prayers at Tehran University to Palestine Square, chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" and burning Israeli flags.Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned Israel that entering Gaza "by land will be the biggest mistake of the Zionist regime." He vowed Israel would be "defeated" in a ground attack.Iran is a major backer of Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, giving it millions of dollars-and weapons and rockets, according to the U.S. and Israel, though Tehran denies arming Hamas.In Egypt, authorities clamped down hard to prevent protests Friday. Hundreds of riot police surrounded Cairo's main Al-Azhar Mosque, where a rally had been called, and scuffled with would-be protesters, keeping most from approaching.Police also arrested 40 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an opposition group that had called for pro-Gaza rallies.More than 3,000 people marched in solidarity with Gaza in the northern Sinai city of el-Arish, Egypt's closest city to Gaza.Many governments in the Arab world such as Egypt have been wary about protests at home over Israel's Gaza assault lest the protests spiral out of control.In Jordan, police fired volleys of tear gas and scuffled with dozens of protesters who tried to push through barriers to reach the Israeli Embassy in Amman. A few of the protesters threw stones at police, but the security forces dispersed the group, arresting several.About 30,000 Jordanians gathered at a stadium in Amman shouting their support for Gaza and calling for the abolition of the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty signed in 1994.More than 10,000 Muslims marched through Indonesia's capital Jakarta to protest the ongoing bombing raids in Gaza, aiming fake missiles labeled "Target: Tel Aviv, Israel" at the U.S. Embassy.Protests were also held after Friday prayers in other cities in the world's most populous Muslim country, in what was the largest turnout since Israel began the operation.In the Afghan capital of Kabul, about 3,000 people gathered outside a prominent mosque, according to police estimates. Men in the crowd threw stones and shoes at an effigy of President George W. Bush.Dozens of demonstrators gathered in the Philippines capital Manila, carrying placards saying Israel is a "butcher of children" and accusing it of war crimes.In Turkey, Israel's closest ally in the region, some 5,000 people denounced the Israeli raids outside a mosque in Istanbul, burning Israeli and U.S. flags and reciting funeral prayers for the victims. The state-run Anatolia news agency says similar protests were held in several other Turkish cities.In Syria, some 2,000 marched in a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus, carrying Palestinian flags and chanting "jihad will unite us," and later burned an Israeli flag.In Sudan, thousands marched in downtown Khartoum from mosques to the main Martyrs Square, urging Muslims to jihad and denouncing Israel and America.Small protests erupted as well in the Palestinian territories.In the West Bank city of Ramallah, thousands demonstrated in solidarity with Gazans, calling for Palestinian unity and accusing Arab leaders of silence over Israel's bombardment.Ex-Eurythmics singer Annie Lennox and other celebrities, including activist Bianca Jagger, comedian Alexei Sayle and politicians including former London mayor Ken Livingstone, held a press conference in London demanding Israel halt the onslaught.In Bern, Switzerland, hundreds of people marched, calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and demanding that the international community impose sanctions against Israel.Russian authorities detained about 37 people after a small protest outside the Israeli Embassy in Moscow demanding an end to attacks on the Gaza Strip. The protests included members of Russia's many Muslim minorities.Hundreds of Muslims held a rally at the main mosque in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi after prayers, hoisting banners that said "Palestinian Blood Is Human Blood" and shouting for Kenya to sever ties with Israel.
By NASSER KARIMI--Associated Press Writer
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Rejecting truce, Olmert vows 'iron fist' against Hamas

ASHKELON, Israel - Israeli soldiers were poised Thursday to launch a Gaza Strip ground offensive as their political leadership appeared divided over how to bring the devastating six-day-old military campaign against Hamas to an end. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed to use an "iron fist" to pummel Hamas militants and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni politely rebuffed French efforts to broker a truce that might make a ground offensive unnecessary.While the tentative diplomatic initiative stalled, Israel targeted a top Hamas military mastermind with an air strike that killed the hard-line leader and 13 members of his family. More than 400 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli air strikes that are taking an increasing toll on civilians. According to the Hamas-led Ministry of Health in Gaza, the latest Israeli attacks have killed 11 children and six women since Wednesday.In all, United Nations workers and Palestinian human rights groups estimate, more than 100 Palestinian civilians - one quarter of all the deaths - have been killed by Israeli strikes thus far.As rockets fired by Gaza Strip militants sent people nearby scrambling for cover in the coastal Israeli city of Ashkelon, the country's deputy prime minister said the fighting had reached "the end of the beginning" and endorsed the idea of sending international forces into oversee any truce with Hamas."We have to find a way that this war will end while Hamas is not exclusively controlling the area," said Vice Premier Haim Ramon, who is among a minority of Israeli cabinet ministers to call for the military operation to bring Hamas rule of Gaza to an end. Harkening back to a United Nations deal that brought Israel's 2006 war with Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon to an end, Ramon suggested that international peacekeepers be sent into Gaza to oversee any future truce with Hamas.But Olmert aides dismissed the idea and said it was too early to consider how the fighting might end."It's all very fluid," said Olmert spokesman Mark Regev. "We're not there yet."On a visit Thursday to a southern Israeli city recently hit by more-advanced Palestinian rockets, Olmert said the military was doing all it could to avoid civilian casualties."We will treat the population with silk gloves, but will apply an iron fist to Hamas," said Olmert...
Special correspondent Ahmed Abu Hamda contributed to this report from Gaza City, Gaza Strip.
By Dion Nissenbaum McClatchy Newspapers
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First Foreigners Evacuated from Gaza

Israel is allowing foreigners and Palestinian holders of foreign passports to flee from the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip.

5 civilians lightly wounded in rocket barrage on Ashkelon

Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched a volley of rockets at Israel on Friday afternoon, with some 30 projectiles pounding the area,three civilians wounded,and three residential buildings damaged.In the latest barrage, seven rockets exploded in the Ashkelon area,with one scoring a direct hit on a house.Five civilian were lightly wounded in the attack and five were treated for shock, Israel Radio reported. A car was also damaged by one of the rockets. Simultaneously, rockets were fired at the Eshkol and Sderot regions.Also Friday, a man and woman sustained light shrapnel wounds in Ashkelon as two Grad rockets hit residential areas of the city, each striking an apartment building and causing substantial damage. Two more rockets landed in open areas of the city.Additionally, a Kassam rocket hit an electric cable in Sderot, leading to power cuts in the town, and another hit a Sdot Negev greenhouse.No casualties or damage were reported in the latter attacks, but several people were treated for shock.Since the start of Operation Cast Lead on Saturday, three Israeli civilians and one soldier have been killed in rocket attacks, which have reached deeper into Israel than ever before, bringing one-eighth of the population of 7 million within rocket range.
AP contributed to this report
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Hamas plans to defeat Israeli force with epic "last stand" at Gaza City

DEBKAfile's military sources report that Hamas does not propose to put its entire 15,000-strong army in harm's way against the expected Israeli military invasion. It will confine its resistance to small pockets and sabotage and let Israel troops occupy most of Gaza Strip territory. Assuming the incoming force will stop short of conquering Gaza City and put it to siege, Hamas planners believe this siege force will be Israel's Achilles heel. They propose to wear it down over weeks by nocturnal guerrilla forays from within Gaza City and force an inconclusive end to the conflict. Thousands of Hamas combatants have begun infiltrating Gaza City after shedding their uniforms and are taking over civilian apartments.DEBKAfile's military sources disclose that Israel's war planners have factored Hamas' thinking into their calculations and built tactics to catch them unawares.Hamas strategists expect the Israeli ground operation to start with a simultaneous three-prong incursion of armor and special forces from the north, the east and the south. The invaders will occupy most of the 20x40-kilometer area of the Gaza Strip within 5 to 7 days at most, skirting and encircling Gaza City and other main towns. They will then, according to Hamas' calculations, carve the territory up into five pockets, each with its own military commander.
Pocket 1 will extend from the southernmost Philadelphi belt on the Egyptian border up to the southern outskirts of Khan Younis. Israeli units will then set about destroying the network of hundreds of smuggling tunnels which has kept Hamas supplied with arms, fuel and reinforcements through Sinai. Cairo may have tacitly approved the Israel plan.
Pocket 2 will cover the Khan Younes district up to the Kissufim junction.
Pocket 3 will cover the central region of the Gaza Strip up to the Karni Crossing, including the Moazi and El Bureij refugee camps.
Pocket 4 will encompass Jebalya, Beit Hanoun, Beit Lahiya, the primary rocket and missile sites, up to the northern border with Israel.
Pocket 5 An Israeli force will encircle Gaza City and send detachments into the town to liquidate Hamas targets and operatives from allied Palestinian terror groups.
Hamas believes the IDF force will be at its most vulnerable when its Gaza City siege force is faced with an active fighting front of 3,000-5,000 armed Palestinians. By day, they will mingle with the civilian population and by night emerge from hideouts in private homes to hit the Israeli armored forces from the rear with anti-tank weapons and suicide bombers.The Palestinian group's leaders are counting on inflicting casualties that will mount up week after week and wear Israeli forces down until they are driven into an ignominious retreat.
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Israel Hits Homes of Hamas Leaders

U.S. Readying Afghan Surge Against Taliban

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan-Afghanistan's southern rim, the Taliban's spiritual birthplace and the country's most violent region, has for the last two years been the domain of British, Canadian and Dutch soldiers.That's about to change.In what amounts to an Afghan version of the surge in Iraq, the U.S. is preparing to pour at least 20,000 extra troops into the south, augmenting 12,500 NATO soldiers who have proved too few to cope with a Taliban insurgency that is fiercer than NATO leaders expected.New construction at Kandahar Air Field foreshadows the upcoming infusion of American power. Runways and housing are being built, along with two new U.S. outposts in Taliban-held regions of Kandahar province.And in the past month the south has been the focus of visiting U.S. and other dignitaries-Sen. John McCain, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, U.S. congressional delegations and leaders from NATO headquarters in Europe.For the first time since NATO took over the country in 2006, an experienced U.S. general, Brig. Gen. John Nicholson, is assigned to the south.He says U.S. Gen. David McKiernan,NATO's commander in Afghanistan, has made the objectives clear in calling the situation in the south a stalemate and asking for more troops, on top of the 32,000 Americans already in Afghanistan. "By introducing more U.S. capability in here we have the potential to change the game," Nicholson said.The Army Corps of Engineers will spend up to $1.3 billion in new construction for troop placements in southern Afghanistan, said the corps commander in Afghanistan, Col. Thomas O'Donovan.Violence in Afghanistan has spiked in the last two years, and Taliban militants now control wide swaths of countryside. Military officials say they have enough troops to win battles but not to hold territory, and they hope the influx of troops, plus the continued growth of the Afghan army, will change that.U.S. officials hope to add at least three new brigades of ground forces in the southern region, along with assets from an aviation brigade, surveillance and intelligence forces, engineers, military police and Special Forces. In addition, a separate brigade of new troops is deploying to two provinces surrounding Kabul.Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last month that Afghanistan could get up to 30,000 new U.S. troops in 2009, depending on the security situation in Iraq. Col. Greg Julian, a U.S. military spokesman, said Monday that one ground brigade should arrive by spring, a second by summer and a third by fall...
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ESCAPE from HAMAS:"Terror through the eyes of a son of Hamas"

Hamas Resilient Despite Israeli Onslaught

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip-Israel is methodically targeting the Hamas domain, bombing government offices, security compounds, commanders, and even Hamas-linked clinics, mosques and money changers. Yet Gaza's Islamic rulers show no sign of buckling under the aerial onslaught.Israel says Hamas still has thousands of rockets. Hamas TV and radio remain on the air, broadcasting morale-boosting battle reports. Hamas' political and military leaders communicate from hiding places by walkie-talkie. Police patrol streets to prevent price gouging and looting."Israel has destroyed the buildings, but Hamas is still here,"Ahmed Yousef, a Hamas spokesman, said Thursday, the sixth day of the bombing campaign."There is no anxiety over the existence of Hamas-even if they destroy all of Gaza-because we are among the people."Hamas' survival will depend on how far Israel is willing to go to obtain its declared objective: crippling the group's ability to fire rockets at Israeli towns and cities. Thousands of Israeli soldiers are amassed on Gaza's border, waiting for the signal to invade.Yet Israel, which withdrew its troops from Gaza in 2005 after a 38-year occupation, also says it does not want to reoccupy the area. That suggests Hamas will be able to cling to power in Gaza, which it seized by force from moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007.Hamas' future also hinges on the conditions of the cease-fire that will eventually be brokered.The group's leaders are demanding that Gaza's borders be opened in exchange for calm; the territory has been largely sealed off by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas takeover. A plan promoted by Egypt and the U.S. would link any opening of the borders to giving Abbas a new foothold in Gaza.With Hamas losing much of its infrastructure to the Israeli assault, it might be more willing to cut a deal with Abbas, said Gaza analyst Emad Falluji, a former Hamas activist.For now, Hamas has proven surprisingly resilient.
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Rice Vows Hard Work on Arranging Gaza Cease-fire

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused the militant Hamas organization of holding the people of Gaza hostage Friday and said the United States continues to seek a 'durable and sustainable' cease-fire...

Day 7 of Gaza operation: High police alert across Israel, Ashkelon takes brunt of rockets

Israeli police placed 12,000 officers on high alert across the country-concentrated mainly in Jerusalem and the North-Friday, Jan 2, Day 7 of the Gaza operation. Military contingents on the West Bank have been beefed up after 60 warnings were received. They are braced for Hamas attempts to stir up violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank and for clashes between Friday prayers worshippers and police around the mosques. Admission al Aqsa mosque on Temple Mount restricted to men over 50 and women.Ashkelon, 17km north of Gaza took the brunt of Palestinian attacks. Of the 7 Grad Katyushas striking the port city, two were direct hits slightly injuring two people. The air force hit the Gaza launchers. Several missiles and rockets exploded at Netivot, Shear Hanegev and Negev fields.Israel sees Friday as a test for the US-trained Palestinian security forces handed responsibility for security in several West Bank towns including Nablus, Ramallah and Hebron. An Israeli source said that to establish their credibility they may need to exercise force to quell mob outbreaks. Otherwise, the violence will spread and ignite the entire West Bank, in which case Israel troops would have to be called in. To be on the safe side, the IDF ordered the West Bank sealed Thursday midnight.A heavy Egyptian ring of security forces has been drawn around the Gaza border with orders to open fire on Palestinians escaping to Sinai from Israeli attacks. Mounting tension in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected Israeli ground incursion has driven thousands of northerners to head south toward the Egyptian border.Early Friday, after wiping out Hamas command centers and bases and 80 percent of their weapons tunnels in six days, the Israeli air force bombed the homes of 20 high-profile leaders and officers. An Israeli military source said: "After Nizar Ariyan was killed in an air strike Thursday night, every Ezz e-Din al Qassam brigade and battalion commander knows he stands to lose his family home."The panic in Hamas ranks has spread to the Palestinian street.Friday, Israel bombed another Gaza mosque used as a weapons depot. Egypt asked Israel to refrain from targeting mosques – even if they are weapons stores - so as not to inflame world Muslims.
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Israel-Gaza Crossfire Unrelenting

'Day of Wrath' Ordered as Israel Hits Hamas Homes

Israel showed no sign of slowing a blistering seven-day offensive against Hamas militants in Gaza, destroying homes of more than a dozen of the group's operatives Friday and bombing one of its mosques as Hamas ordered a "day of wrath" against Israel over the killing of a senior commander.Thousands of Israeli security personnel were placed on high alert and deployed around annexed Arab east Jerusalem after Hamas called for "massive marches" following the main weekly Muslim prayers."Police has been placed on a heightened state of alert throughout the country, just under the maximum level that is in effect in war time," a police spokesman told AFP.Israel destroyed the homes of more than a dozen Hamas operatives and bombed one of its mosques on Friday, while the Israeli army said troops massed on the Gaza border were ready for any order to invade.In what appeared to be a new Israeli tactic, the military called at least some of the houses ahead of time to warn inhabitants of an impending attack. In some cases, it also fired a sound bomb to warn away civilians before flattening the homes with powerful missiles, Palestinians and Israeli defense officials said.Israel launched the aerial campaign last Saturday in a bid to halt weeks of intensifying Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza. The offensive has dealt a heavy blow to Hamas, but failed to halt the rocket fire. New attacks Friday struck apartment buildings in a southern Israeli city. No serious injuries were reported.After destroying Hamas' security compounds, Israel has turned its attention to the group's leadership.In airstrike after airstrike early Friday, Israeli warplanes hit some 20 houses believed to belong to Hamas militants and members of other armed groups, Palestinians said.They said the Israelis either warned nearby residents by phone or fired a warning missile to reduce civilian casualties. Israeli planes also dropped leaflets east of Gaza giving a confidential phone number and e-mail address for people to report locations of rocket squads.Residents stepped over the leaflets.Israel used similar tactics during its 2006 war in Lebanon.Most of the targeted homes Friday belonged to activist leaders and appeared to be empty at the time, but one man was killed in a strike that flattened a building in the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza...
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Timeline of the violence in Sri Lanka

Major developments in Sri Lanka's conflict:
• 1975: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam group forms. The group demands a separate state for minority ethnic Tamils in the island's north and east.
• 1983: Civil war begins.
• 1991: Tamil Tiger suicide bomber assassinates then-Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, apparently in revenge for sending Indian peacekeeping troops who ended up fighting the rebels.
• 1993: Tamil Tiger suicide bomber kills Sri Lanka's President Ranasinghe Premadasa after his government's failed peace efforts.
• February 2002: Sri Lankan government signs a cease-fire agreement with Tamil Tigers.
• June 2005: Relations between the government and rebels deteriorate over the issue of sharing international tsunami aid.
• August 2005: Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, an ethnic Tamil who opposed a separate state for the minority, is assassinated. Tigers are blamed.
• December 2005: Rebels launch first major attack since truce, killing at least 12 Sri Lankan navy sailors. A series of attacks follows.
• Feb. 22, 2006: Government and rebel officials meet in Switzerland for peace talks and agree to de-escalate violence. A second round of peace talks a few months later is postponed as the two sides argue over transport and security.
• June 8, 2006: Talks in Norway aimed at restoring peace collapse.
• July 20, 2006: Tamil Tigers close sluice gates of an eastern reservoir, cutting water to over 60,000 people, prompting the government to launch its first major offensive on Tiger territory since the 2002 cease-fire.
• Nov. 2, 2007: Tamil Tigers' political wing head S.P. Thamilselvan, believed to be the second-in-command of the group, is killed in a government air raid.
• Jan. 2, 2008: Government says Tamil Tigers must disarm before any future peace talks, a day after the authorities decide to withdraw from an internationally brokered cease-fire.
• Jan. 16, 2008: Sri Lanka's cease-fire deal officially terminated.
• Aug. 2, 2008: Sri Lankan military says troops enter the district housing the Tamil Tiger rebels' de facto capital for the first time in 11 years.
• Aug. 29, 2008: Sri Lanka urges civilians living in rebel-held areas to flee to government-controlled territory.
• Jan. 2, 2009: Government says the military has captured the Tamil Tigers' de facto capital, Kilinochchi.
By The Associated Press
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Sri Lanka says troops have captured rebel capital

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka-Government forces captured the Tamil Tigers' de facto capital in northern Sri Lanka on Friday, dealing a devastating blow to the rebels' quarter-century fight for an independent state, the president said.But in a sign the rebels retained their ability to strike back, a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide attacker on a motorcycle detonated a bomb near the air force headquarters in the heart of Colombo during Friday's afternoon rush hour, killing two airmen, police spokesman Ranjith Gunasekara said.The attacker, who was targeting troops as they left work, wounded 30 other people, including nine airmen, he said.The blast pierced the festive mood that had swept across the capital after President Mahinda Rajapaksa announced the fall of Kilinochchi in a nationally televised speech. "Our brave and heroic troops have fully captured Kilinochchi, which was considered the main bastion of the LTTE," he said, referring to the rebels by their formal name, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam."For the last time, I call upon the LTTE to lay down their arms and surrender."Across Colombo, people lit firecrackers, danced in the streets and waved Sri Lankan flags.Kilinochchi held great symbolic value as the center of the Tamil Tigers' de facto state and its capture by government forces for the first time in a decade was sure to badly damage the rebels' morale. The rebels used the town as their headquarters and created structures for an independent state, such as police, courts and tax offices.But the rebel-affiliated TamilNet Web site said the Tamil Tigers had moved their headquarters further to the northeast before the town fell. Kilinochchi does not lie along a key crossroads or house major rebel bases or armories, and military analysts said its strategic value was not great.Rebel officials were not immediately available for comment, but they have said in the past that they would fight on even if Kilinochchi fell.The rebels have fought since 1983 to create an independent homeland in the north and east for Tamils, who have suffered decades of marginalization by successive governments controlled by the Sinhalese majority. The conflict has killed more than 70,000 people.

By KRISHAN FRANCIS, Associated Press Writer
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Muslim passengers removed from DC flight

WASHINGTON-AirTran Airlines says nine Muslim passengers were removed from a flight from Washington, D.C., to Florida after other passengers reported hearing a suspicious remark. An AirTran spokesman says the it was a misunderstanding.The Muslim passengers say AirTran wouldn't rebook them Thursday and they had to pay for seats on another airline. Passenger Kashif Irfan tells The Washington Post the confusion began when his brother remarked aloud that the plane's jets were next to his window.Two other passengers reported hearing what they considered to be a suspicious remark.AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson says the airline strictly followed federal rules.Federal officials ordered all 104 passengers off the plane and re-screened them before allowing the flight to depart.
Information from: The Washington Post, http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/ap/ap_on_re_us/storytext/muslim_passengers_removed/30425851/SIG=10vkfsojr/*http://www.washingtonpost.com http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090102/ap_on_re_us/muslim_passengers_removed
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