|Monday, 18 December 2017|
The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 09-01-13
From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <www.ert.gr/>
 Fierce BattlesIsraeli attacks in the Gaza Strip are escalating, as ground forces are approaching densely populated areas now. During the night, Israelis have penetrated into city districts. Meanwhile, international pressure on ceasefire is stepping up at a time when the Palestinians number 900 dead and 4,000 wounded. Hamas, which is expected to reject Egypt's proposal for ceasefire, has stated it will win the war. "If Hamas does not stop its missile attacks, then it will have to face an iron feast" replied the Israeli PM. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has demanded from Israel and Hamas to stop immediately the conflict. At the same time, Mr Moon will convene the Security Council today (17:00 Greek time) in view of his mission to the Middle East and a short visit to Turkey. At the same time, Saudi Arabia accused Israel of "racist annihilitation", hoping in parallel that the US President-elect Barack Obama will give an end to the dispute between the Israelis and the Palestinians. From its side, the EU Czech Presidency is preparing an international conference of donors to cover Gaza's humanitarian needs. In parallel, 90 French organizations will press charges to Israel's Penal Court against Israel for war crimes in Gaza.
Gaza Districts Penetrated
Armoured vehicles of the Israeli army, supported by jet fighters penetrated three Gaza districts Monday night, reported an AFP journalist, who cited eyewitnesses'' testimonies. As per these sources, the tanks penetrated deeply into Tal al-Haoua, Sheih Azlin and Zeitun. Palestinian fighters retaliated to the bombings with mortars; however there is no information on victims so far.
Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli units penetrated Tal al-Haua district, in the southern part of the town a little after midnight and received fire by gunmen, who had ambushed them before they reached the spot in order to be supported by tanks and jet fighters.An Israeli army spokesman confirmed that battles had taken place in many districts, without giving additional information.
On Monday, Israeli tanks moved into Seih Azlin, Toufa and Zeitun, meeting with resistance by Palestinian fighters. At the same time, air attacks were launched in the town centre. Strong battles took place in the communities of Beit Lahia and Jabaliya, north of Gaza.
Besides, eyewitnesses reported that military units invaded Huzaa, near the Israeli border but were forced to re-deploy because they were met with fire. Then, tanks attacked the village.
Egyptian Proposal Rejected
At the same time, as per Lebanese political sources, Hamas is preparing to reject Egypt's proposals for ceasefire.
A reliable source has stated that Hamas has objections on three points of the proposal, hammered out by Egypt and international diplomats "Hamas is rejecting the long-term ceasefire - the Egyptians speak of 15 years - and objects to a ceasefire that is not accompanied by the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from the new positions they occupied in Gaza, as well as to presence of international observes in the Rafah passage.
The same source stressed that Hamas supports a short-term ceasefire for a specific period, while the Israeli troops should withdraw the same moment the ceasefire will begin to be implemented.
However, Hamas is ready to talk the opening of Egyptian-Rafah border, but is not willing to accept the presence of international observers on the spot.
Sources: Reuters, ═┼ď 105.8, ┴NA-╠PARelative articles: Israelis step in Gaza
Palestinian people's drama in the epicentre
News item: 17636
 Talks and BombardsMiddle East - Iraq
Israeli warplanes bombed the Gaza Strip on Thursday and tanks pounded Palestinian guerrillas on the ground. Residents in Gaza described the overnight bombardments to the east of the city as among the heaviest in the offensive. In the south of the territory a phalanx of tanks advanced closer to the town of Khan Younis, witnesses said. The bombards were confirmed by the Israeli army. 40 targets at least were hit and according to Israel in 250 to 300 tunnels weapons are transported. Yesterday there was a three hour truce and 80 trucks with food and aid were allowed to enter Gaza strip. Death toll in Gaza rises to 702. 3.100 Palestinians are wounded.
At least four rockets fired from Lebanon exploded in northern Israel on Thursday, wounding two people, police and medics said, in an attack likely linked to Israel's offensive against Hamas Islamists in the Gaza Strip.Lebanon's militant Hezbollah leader stepped up his anti-Israeli rhetoric on Wednesday, warning Israel that it can't destroy the Palestinian Hamas and that it would be "crushed" should it attack Lebanon.
Members of the Israeli army estimate that the rockets were not launched by Hamas but by hard-core Palestinian organizations.
Hamas thinks the same and according to statements made by its representatives in Beirut stresses: "We can not accuse any Palestinian organizations and we do not know who fired the rockets".
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held a meeting on Wednesday with visiting Iran's Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on the situation in the Gaza Strip, the official SANA news agency reported. The two sides underlined the importance of working with Arab and international parliaments to condemn and demand a halt of this aggression, urging to ensure the entry of humanitarian and emergency medical aid to the strip.
US Foreign Affiars Minister Mrs Condoleezza Rice in her statements yesterday to journalists in the EU headquarters stressed: "It has to be a ceasefire that will not allow a return to the status quo,"
Source: ═┼ď 105,8, ┴NA, Reuters,AFP
News item: 17464
 UN Secretary General Calls for Immediate TruceMiddle East - Iraq
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip during a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York. Israel was seriously considering an Egyptian proposal for truce in Gaza, the Israeli representative to the UN said. The proposal, which enjoys a USA backing, has already been accepted by Palestine, while a Palestinian official said that Hamas was also discussing its content with Cairo. Delegations from Egypt and Israel are ready to enter talks, while Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak invited Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Cairo, the French Foreign Minister was quoted as saying. In the meantime, fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas militants continues mostly in the city of Gaza. The schools were civilians had taken refuge in had been clearly marked, said the UN Secretary General, who is to visit Israel, Palestinian territories and several Arab capitals in the week to come.
On day 12 of the Israeli air and ground operations, a Palestinian fighter was killed and another three were injured Wednesday in Gaza.
On Tuesday, the Israeli pounding claimed 40 lives in an UN-run school in Jabaliya, while at least 660 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,950 have been injured since the beginning of the Israeli offensive.
Abbas: "Stop the Genocide"
Arab nations exerted pressure Tuesday on the UN Security Council to step in, while the UN Secretary General dismissed the raids against three UN-run schools in Gaza as "totally unacceptable."
In his statement, Ban Ki-moon stressed that the schools, where the Palestinians that had been left homeless after the Israeli bombing operations had taken refuge, had been known to the Israeli army.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the Council to call for an immediate cessation of the Israeli offensive and a lift of the area's blockade.
He called on the UN Security Council to take "the first necessary step" to save the Palestinian people in Gaza against a backdrop that "the Israeli machine of destruction continues to kill." "Put an end to the genocide. Stop the massacre of my people. Let it leave and be free," added he.
During the sitting, Libya circulated a draft resolution calling for an immediate and permanent truce in the Gaza Strip and the cessation of all military operations, including the rocket attacks mounted by Palestinian fighters.
Egypt's President invited both parties to an emergency meeting to negotiate the treaties and guarantees for the Gaza Strip. After meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mubarak proposed a ceasefire that would allow humanitarian aid in.
News item: 17433
 Israel and Hamas Locked in GunbattlesMiddle East - Iraq
Israeli troops continue pushing deeper into Gaza Strip and clashing in fierce battles with Hamas fighters. According to Isarel Hamas has suffered heavy damage while many of its militants have been arrested. On his part, the leader of the Islamist organization Ahmoud -al- Zahar bowed victory of his movement and elimination of the Israeli state during his first television intervention since the launch of the Israeli ground offensive.
The Israeli Air Force has pounded 30 targets in the Gaza Strip on Sunday night said a military spokesman in Tel-Aviv. He said that among targets were a mosque in Jambaliyia, where weapons were hidden, houses used as weaponry depots and vehicles carrying rocket launchers and armed militants. Israeli troops are moving deeper splitting Gaza Strip along a 40km distance while Israeli soldiers in the north are hampering supply of weapons and ammunition to the south. The densely populated Gaza city is surrounded. Strategic target in south Gaza is to cut off access to Kan Younis refugee camp from Rafa. Five children lost their lives in two different raids while a 7 member family was killed in a refugee camp.Israeli troops have taken positions near Netzarim for the first time since their withdrawal from Gaza Strip, in 2005 while they have reached Jambaliyia camp in the Over 517 Palestinians have been killed since December, 27 when Israeli military campaign against Gaza started.The burial of the first Israeli soldier killed during the ground offensive was held on Saturday.Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barrack said that its offensive would take as longs as it necessary to protect neighboring Israeli communities from attacks. "Hamas has suffered a heavy blow but we have not accomplished our target yet so the ground operation continues" said Barrack stressing that security in the south must change.Hamas leader, Mahmoud al- Zahar bowed victory of his movement and elimination of the Israeli state. He strongly criticized the US and the West accusing them of doing nothing to avert Israeli attack and demanded end of violence, withdrawal of Israeli troops and lift of embargo before any talks for a possible cease fire. On its part, Hamas military wing maintained that thousands of fighters are ready to battle against the Israeli soldiers in the streets of Gaza In the meantime, Israeli police said that armed Palestinians launched 24 rockets against Israel, on Sunday slightly wounding two people while the chief of the Israeli Army Intelligence Service has warned of Hezbollah attack at the Lebanon-Israel borders.In parallel, hundreds of Palestinians are fleeing their homes to escape bombardments while there are huge shortages in food and medicines. In its report, the International Red Cross says that the situation in Gaza is chaotic and extremely dangerous after the Israeli ground offensive while air raids have destroyed hospitals, water supply infrastructure, government buildings and mosques. Hospitals are full of injured Palestinians while the Red Cross calls for urgent need of pain killers and bags and sheets to cover the dead.Hospitals depend on electricity generators as the power supply system has been also destroyed but there is fear that electricity generators may collapse at any moment.A group of doctors was to arrive in Gaza today, after many days of delay in Jerusalem awaiting for permission from Israeli authorities. Three nurses and three volunteers have been killed, the building housing the Union of Medical Treatment in Gaza was bombed and 4 ambulances destroyed according to Palestinian medical sources.
News item: 17394
 Gaza Strip Divided into TwoMiddle East - Iraq
Israeli forces have divided the Gaza Strip in two, while more than 500 people have been killed and 2,500 have been injured since the launch of the Israeli air raids on 27 December. An EU delegation, as well as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, are due in the area. Israel escalated its ground, sea and air overnight operations, while the nation's media spoke of a door-to-door search operation to locate Hamas officials. Hospital sources in Palestine claimed that at least 70 Palestinians had been killed since Saturday night, when the ground operation began, while a total of 520 people, including 87 children, have been killed so far. Israel, on the other hand, has lost four people in rocket attacks.
Israeli jets bombarded 130 targets in the Gaza Strip, while Israeli troops pushed deeper in Gaza.
Flashes of explosions could be seen overnight from the northern border of Gaza and the regular sounds of gun and artillery fire could be heard, as Israeli troops were moving to the north. They asked the residents to leave their place to avoid being hit. Several families have taken shelter to UN-controlled schools.
Intense Diplomatic Efforts
Setting off Monday for a tour in Egypt, Israel, the West Bank, Syria and Lebanon, French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned, just like the rest European leaders, the Israeli raid, holding, at the same time, Hamas responsible for the ordeal of the people of Palestine.
An EU delegation in Cairo called for a truce. The EU officials are also due in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Amman. Hamas, on the other hand, said it would said a delegation to Egypt.
Several other nations, including the Vatican and the Prelates of the Churches in Jerusalem, have called for a ceasefire.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon voiced Sunday his disappointment for the failure of Security Council to issue a resolution and urged for unity.
News item: 17383
 Egypt Blocks Greek Doctors' Entry to GazaMiddle East - Iraq
The Egyptian authorities have refused Greek and Turkish doctors, members of the "Doctors of Peace" to pass to Gaza through Rafah passing in aid to Palestinian wounded, due to security reasons.As per NET correspondent Panos Haritos, members of both groups of doctors have staged a sit-in until the Egyptian authorities review their decision and allow them to visit Gaza.
Specifically, five Greek surgeons, members of the "Doctors of Peace" arrived in Rafah early noon with their equipment and asked for permission to pass to Gaza in order to head to Shifa Hospital and offer their services. The Turkish doctors made similar statements, while the Egyptian authorities refused them entrance to Gaza for the doctors' safety.It is noteworthy that as per information, there is a verbal agreement between Israel and Egypt on Rafah, as per which it can open after both sides agree to do so. Having the agreement in mind, it should be considered improbable that they will be allowed entrance to Gaza.
News item: 17350
 Israeli Ground Assault ImminentThe hard stricken residents of densely populated Gaza Strip are living under the fear of ground assault approaching. Israeli tanks and thousands of soldiers are massed on the Gaza border awaiting an order to launch a ground offensive. At the same time, the Israeli artillery opened fire against the Gaza Strip in the afternoon, along the eastern border with Israel for the first time since Hamas' attack on 27 December. As per the same sources, the artitellery opened fire at 16:30 Greek time, mainly in Beit Hanun and Tzabaliyia in the northern part of the Gaza Strip and in Han Iunes in the south. In parallel, Israeli air strikes have entered into a second week adding new names in the death toll list. So far 442 Palestinians have been killed, among them 75 children.Hamas announced today that another senior member was killed while exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, speaking from Damascus, Syria, warned that any ground assault would lead Israel to "a black destiny of dead and wounded." He asserted that the group had sustained minimal losses.On the diplomatic front, US President, George Bush has totally blamed Hamas and ruled out a unilateral cease-fire without monitoring mechanisms. A EU delegation, headed by Xavier Solana is visiting the Middle East on Monday. French President Nikola Sarkozy is also visiting the region on the the same day while Egypt is holding talks with Hamas aimed at cease-fire.
Air Strikes Continue
Israeli warplanes blasted Hamas targets in Gaza Strip on Friday with its air offensive -started on December, 27- entering into second week today. Among victims is another Hamas military wing senior leader. Exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in an interview with al- Zazeera on Friday said that the group had suffered minimal lossesIn a second interview since the start of the Israeli air offensive 7 days ago, Mashaal maintained that Israel had not destroyed significant Hamas strongholds. The Israeli military forces say that they blasted over 700 targets in Gaza. "The enemy has destroyed Gaza infrastructure, but I tell our people that Gaza is well resisting, said Mashaal from Syria. "We have limited resources but strong willingness. We are ready to deal with any provocation in a war imposed on us" he added. So far, 442 Palestinians have been killed and 2.285 injured. During the same period Hamas has launched 500 rockets from Gaza against Israel and has killed 4 people among them one soldier. Palestinian rockets have injured 12 people said Israeli police
Bush Holds Hamas Responsible
US President George W. Bush, in first remarks after conflict erupted in ME, urged all able parties to press Hamas to stop firing rockets at Israel and secure a lasting ceasefire.In his weekly speech to be aired on Saturday, Bush blamed Hamas for the latest violence in the ME and rejected a unilateral ceasefire that would allow Hamas to continue to attack Israel from the Gaza Strip. "This recent outburst of violence was instigated by Hamas -- a Palestinian terrorist group supported by Iran and Syria that calls for Israel's destruction. Hamas commitments are not enough, there must be inspection mechanisms to put a halt to smuggling of weapons to terrorist organizations", Bush said."The United States is leading diplomatic efforts to achieve a meaningful ceasefire that is fully respected," Bush said in his weekly radio address, the text of which was released by the White House in advance. He said "I urge all parties to pressure Hamas to turn away from terror, and to support legitimate Palestinian leaders working for peace," including Mahmud Abbas, president of the US-backed Palestinian Authority.
Sources: ═┼ď, ═┼ď 105.8, ┴NA-╠PA, Reuters, AP, BBC
News item: 17347