Thursday, January 01, 2009

Israel tries to minimize civilian casualties, Hamas tries to maximize them

Jihad Watch

Israel targets an apartment building where weapons are being stored. The Israelis warn people to leave. Hamas tries to get people to stay and act as human shields -- and if they had succeeded in this, of course, they would have trumpeted to the world the deaths of more innocents at the hands of the bloodthirsty Zionists. As Muhammad said, "War is deceit."

Does the mainstream media not know it is being had, or does it just not care?

"Death toll rises as Israel continues Gaza assault," by Dion Nissenbaum and Ahmed Abu Hamda for the McClatchy Newspapers, December 29 (thanks to JCB):

[...] Over the weekend, Kannan's mother received a recorded call on her cell phone from the Israeli military. When she heard who was calling, she hung up. Minutes later, the same call came to the landline in her apartment warning her to leave if she was storing weapons.

In an apartment building across the street from Kannan and her family live four brothers who are Hamas militants. Israeli intelligence called the Hamas members to warn them that they were targets, Kannan said.

Leaders at the local mosque urged neighbors to converge on the apartment building and act as human shields, she added. No one heeded the call, however, so the Hamas militants fled.

While many families have fled the neighborhood, Kannan said that she and her family don't think there's anywhere to hide from the Israeli strikes.

"You are not safe anywhere in Gaza ," Kannan said in a telephone interview from Gaza . "If it's dangerous in our house, it's dangerous in other houses too."

The Israeli military said that it was trying to minimize civilian casualties and noted that Hamas itself has acknowledged that most of those killed were members of its security forces.

On Monday, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that about a third of those killed as of Sunday afternoon — about 90 Palestinians — were civilians.

Israel also allowed 63 truckloads of aid and 1,000 units of blood into Gaza to replenish dangerously low supplies.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki -moon called Monday for an immediate cease-fire, but neither Hamas nor Israel showed any signs of working towards a political compromise.

Israeli government leaders made it clear that they want to contain the rocket fire from Gaza , but have yet to explain when or how this conflict will come to an end.

"The strategy today is to hit Hamas , and to hit Hamas hard," said Mark Regev , a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert . "We believe that will create a new reality, a new security environment in which a quarter million Israelis no longer have to live in fear of rocket attacks."

Regev said that Israel wasn't actively looking to topple Hamas , the Islamist militant group that seized control of the Gaza Strip in a June 2006 military showdown with fighters loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas .

"We have not articulated regime change as a strategic goal," Regev said of Hamas , which was founded in part to destroy Israel.

The internal Palestinian rift has deepened in the past 18 months, and Abbas pointedly blamed Hamas over the weekend for bringing the Israeli attacks on itself by not agreeing to renew a six-month cease-fire that brought temporary and relative calm to the area until it expired earlier this month.

In apparent preparation for sending in troops, Israel Monday declared large swaths of its border with Gaza "closed military zones" that prohibit journalists and others from entering.

Last month, Israel shut its main border crossing with Gaza to all-but-essential medical cases.

As it did during the first phase of Israel's 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon , the Israeli public has rallied behind the air strikes. Polls show growing Israeli support for the attacks on Hamas .

That backing could plummet, however, if Israel embarks on a ground offensive that ends with heavy casualties and no clear-cut victory as the one in Lebanon did.

"I don't think Israel is looking for a political solution," said Yossi Kuperwasser , the brigadier general who served as head of the Israeli military's intelligence branch during the 2006 war. "Israel is looking for a situation where Hamas , because of its own considerations, decides not to shoot."

(Hamda, a McClatchy special correspondent, reported from Gaza City .)

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