There were celebrations in Gaza after the ceasefire took effect. What they are celebrating is an objective mystery.
On a Wednesday where it appeared the situation was heading south in terms of the Israel/Gaza Strip conflict, a ceasefire that both parties could agree to was announced in the evening local time – and appears to be holding so far.
Earlier in the day it appeared tensions would ratchet higher as a bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv – injuring 21 people. Airstrikes continued in Gaza and even ramped up some after the bus bombing. Still, negotiators in Cairo delivered, the arms have been laid down (or, depending on your perspective, just queued for reloading) and the situation in the Middle East is… basically exactly the same as it was before.
Israel is still blockading the Gaza Strip. Hamas is still in firm control of the Gaza Strip. A few terrorists in the Gaza Strip were killed in actions that will inspire the creation of additional ones. Israel didn’t launch a ground invasion and no one else so much as lifted a finger in the direction of intervention on behalf of the Palestinians. Everyone claimed victory, shook hands, and smiled for the camera. Just another day and another crisis in the world’s most well-stocked power-keg. No change.
Hopes for a truce between Israel and Gaza were dashed Tuesday as the bombing campaign continued.
There was much discussion during the day on Tuesday that a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza would take effect perhaps around 8pm local time, but as the sun set and midnight approached, Israel’s aerial campaign against the Gaza Strip continued. Talks stagnated in Cairo, Egypt, with the influential Middle Eastern nation taking center stage as it tries to broker a cessation of hostilities in the week old conflict.
Reports from the region indicate that the death toll has risen to 132. As the rumored time for the ceasefire came and went, Gaza residents were informed via leaflet to evacuate Gaza City immediately - seemingly warning of a more widespread bombing campaign to soon begin. Such a move would no doubt increase the death toll even further.
The Israel Defense Force has also been warning journalists to keep their distance from Hamas “operatives”:
Warning to reporters in Gaza: Stay away from Hamas operatives & facilities. Hamas, a terrorist group, will use you as human shields.
Israel continues surgical strikes on the Gaza Strip.
Monday was the deadliest day of the skirmish between Israel and the Gaza Strip with Palestinian reports of at least 34 killed by Israeli bombings. This pushes the overall figure for deaths on the Gaza side over 100, a mark that is sure to continue to rise as the conflict drags on. The tolls provided somber backdrop to negotiations taking place in Cairo, Egypt:
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also arrived in Cairo to aid negotiating efforts. He plans to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the coming days.
US President Obama spoke to his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Mursi and to Mr Netanyahu on Monday and “discussed ways to de-escalate the situation in Gaza,” the White House said in a statement.
An obligatory statement of regretting deaths on both sides was also mentioned by the President.
Israel has moved its targeted bombing into Gaza’s densely packed neighborhoods.
Sunday was another day of aerial assault on the Gaza Strip as Israeli warplanes continued their runs over the tiny territory. Through early Monday morning in the region, some 82 Palestinians have been killed along with 3 on the Israeli side.
Militants in Gaza have been able to return some fire to Israel, though the majority of rocket fire emanating from the strip is being intercepted by the country’s Iron Dome system. The number of rockets actually making it to the ground in Israel is being counted by the dozen instead of the hundred because of this system.
Meanwhile in Gaza, the Hamas Government is seeing systematic attacks on their infrastructure – with police stations and government buildings being targeted by warplanes, though now with expanded attacks into neighborhoods – seeking out the homes of the targeted ‘terrorists’. As densely packed as the Gaza Strip is, this is only inviting more collateral damage and civilian death.
While talks of a ceasefire have been floated, Israel continues its aerial pounding of Gaza.
Despite the gradual massing of troops near the Israel/Gaza Strip border and the call up of additional reserves across the country, Israel continued to hit the Gaza Strip only via the air on Saturday. While the rate of rockets being fired from the Gaza Strip have been on a relative decline, Tel Aviv was targeted once again, with Jerusalem being targeted for the first time as well on Friday. Targeting Jerusalem is somewhat curious as there is as much chance of a Gaza rocket falling in an empty field on the outskirts of the city as much as there is a chance of it falling in a Palestinian neighborhood.
Formal diplomatic expressions of support via visiting delegations in Gaza have now expanded to include Tunisia – another Arab Spring nation that feels more confident to express its regional opinions out loud instead of staying in line with what western nations would prefer. A Pyrrhic victory for the notion of freedom of speech, it also acts to tip the scales more toward a regional destabilization the more Gaza feels like it can stand on its own two feet against Israel just a little longer. It really can’t, as Israel is a vastly superior force with complete superiority over Gaza, but the longer this goes on the more likely Gaza – or rather the hard-line militants – will have to learn this yet again the hard way.
Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepts rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.
A second day of conflict between the Gaza Strip and Israel brought a very unfamiliar sound to the country’s commercial capital, Tel Aviv – for the first time since the First Iraq War the sounds of exploding rockets thundered across the sky. Only three made it anywhere near the city limits and there wasn’t the fear of chemical attacks as there was in 1991, but it was still a psychological hit to Israel’s sense of superiority - missile defense and all. It may compel the country to launch a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip in the days to come.
For its part, Israel and their overwhelming military superiority continued targeted strikes in Gaza City – with a death toll on the Palestinian side pushing twenty since the conflict’s escalation on Wednesday. The Israel Defense Force has toyed publicly on Twitter (actually a lot of disturbing toying has been going on both sides over Twitter of all places but that’s for another day) that a ground offensive is possible in Gaza. Some 30,000 reservists have been called up for this potential outcome.
Meanwhile down the coast in Egypt, the government of Mohamed Morsi finds itself in the absolutely unenviable position of being between hardliners who want the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel, the Arab Street which is going to likely be whipped into a furor during end-of-week prayers, the United States still counting on Egypt to be a stalwart ally for peace in the region, and an internal desire to be more assertive over regional affairs – to show there are more players at the table than just Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Explosions rattled Gaza City on Wednesday as Israel launched pinpoint air strikes against Hamas targets.
A long time ago in years far, far away, there was actually hope for a peace process in the Middle East. There were accords in Dayton, hands were shook, people even smiled into the camera together. The first decade of the 21st century and now the second has seen this supplanted by a thickly lingering cold war that flares rather hot and in varying directions depending from which direction the pot was stirred. Yesterday that direction was to the west.
Israel launched air strikes across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, most notably killing Ahmed Said Khalil al-Jabari – the military leader of the militant wing of Hamas. His death, and the subsequent release of the killing footage by the Israel Defense Forces, have predictably stoked anger and desire for retaliation among the hard liners in Gaza.
Fiery rhetoric is the order of the day as Hamas has thrown out phrases such as “declaration of war” and “opened the gates of hell on itself” in regards to Israel. It remains to be seen what, if anything, Hamas can effectively inflict upon Israel and just how much of their absolute advantage in every military facet imaginable they will bring to bare on the overcrowded strip.
The “Ground Zero Mosque” debate (which, by the way, has all but died as we approach election day) continues to have its effects seen in televised topical conversation, melted into a gigantic pot that contains general hatred of all Muslims and the heaviest ingredient – the world since 9/11.
The most recent blowup in this never ending discussion came from The View, where two of the hosts walked off the show in disgust after Bill O’Reilly of Fox News said “Muslims attacked us on 9/11″. Vague and generalizing, such a sentiment doesn’t do much of anything to advance discussion and peer into the why behind the why behind the why – a process typically called “understanding”. Such foreign concepts are usually a good idea to research if one would actually like to understand why a conflict is going on and, better yet, how to end it.
The discussion is nowhere near that. The discussion is a lot closer to the link above. There are well thought out rebuttals that make huge strides toward actually understanding the roots of conflict, but they’re typically left to obscurity – since reason and thought aren’t good for ratings. Still, thankfully it happens (skip ahead to about 2:45 for something of relevance):
Intelligence like this, sadly, winds up tossed to the wind of the discourse, as all the mature people stand on the sidelines – trying to live their lives – hoping the day will come when the windbags of fear and broad-based discrimination finally blow their selves out.
If the truth fell in a forest and nobody heard it, did it happen?
The closest thing that we are going to get to the Pentagon Papers incident of our generation, the leaking of over 90,000 documents by whistle-blowing site Wikileaks to three major news organizations around the world, has so far seemed to simultaneously caused a great deal of yawning, and a great deal of questioning of why the nearly decade-long war is allowed to continue with no real end in sight, nor any real final goal that will allow us to finally leave.
The yawning, surprisingly enough, comes from media outlets their selves who trotted out experts over the past week to address the content of the information that was leaked, and the near uniform response was along the lines of this was already known or there was nothing new added here: not addressing just how terrible that truth is, or bothering to repeat that truth one more time louder, just playing things off as this is the new business as normal, and off with life we go.
More depressing still (because the information contained within the leaked documents, “known” or not, is pretty depressing for the future war effort) is that the lead headline to evolve in the days since the leak is not the content of the leak, but how the information was leaked in the first place, and the efforts of the government to track down the source of the link and the leader of the Wikileaks site itself – letting the entire reality spelled out in plain black and white by the leaked documents to continue onward almost completely undisturbed.
This is big. A “black eye” for how the war is being conducted, and what really is and is not being accomplished in Afghanistan doesn’t begin to come close to the 90,000 documents that Wikileaks has handed off to three major news organizations. The stories began to run tonight, and this will be an embarrassment to stretch across Presidential administrations.
Where do you even begin?
The war logs also detail:
• How a secret “black” unit of special forces hunts down Taliban leaders for “kill or capture” without trial.
• How the US covered up evidence that the Taliban have acquired deadly surface-to-air missiles.
• How the coalition is increasingly using deadly Reaper drones to hunt and kill Taliban targets by remote control from a base in Nevada.
• How the Taliban have caused growing carnage with a massive escalation of their roadside bombing campaign, which has killed more than 2,000 civilians to date.
As for defense of the administration, the White House comes out swinging at Wikileaks for releasing the information…
The White House also criticised the publication of the files by Wikileaks: “We strongly condemn the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organisations, which puts the lives of the US and partner service members at risk and threatens our national security. Wikileaks made no effort to contact the US government about these documents, which may contain information that endanger the lives of Americans, our partners, and local populations who co-operate with us.”
…though they would like you to know that a majority of this happened under the other guy’s watch…
In a statement, the White House said the chaotic picture painted by the logs was the result of “under-resourcing” under Obama’s predecessor, saying: “It is important to note that the time period reflected in the documents is January 2004 to December 2009.”
The forgotten war of the 21st century is about to become a lot less forgotten. It better, because if this isn’t enough to wake people up to the reality of the failed mission and the idea that troops don’t need to be dying there any longer, nothing will.
In the meantime, cheers to the light of truth, still being shone by those brave enough to do so.