Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

Monitoraggio attraverso i media internazionali delle elezioni in Israele del Febbraio 2009

Hamas announces week-long ceasefire in Gaza

Posted by claudiacampli su 19 gennaio, 2009

Times

A fragile peace returned to Gaza for the first time in three weeks yesterday, and as it did so the sheer scale of the destruction visited on the territory began to emerge.

Gazans emerged from their shelters to find their homes destroyed, citrus orchards flattened and workshops wrecked. The charred shells of cars and trucks lay upside down. Roads were blocked by debris, fallen electricity poles and pools of sewage.

Rescue teams dug in the rubble of buildings, looking for bodies. People retrieved clothes and televisions, mattresses and merchandise from the ruins of their properties. Children scavenged amid the wreckage for the remains of missiles to sell as scrap.

“It’s like being hit by a tsunami,” said Mustafa Kozad, 57, a mechanic, as he surveyed the destruction around the Hamas stronghold of Zeitun.

“I’m full of hatred for these savages,” Mohammed Abu Hamaid, 30, said of the Israelis. “I wish I had a camera to take pictures of this destruction. Then I could show them to my children so they would never forget it and seek to avenge it.”

Rescue teams retrieved nearly 100 bodies, taking the Palestinian death toll past 1,200 — more than half of them civilians. Thirteen Israelis have been killed, all but three of them soldiers. According to Palestinian Authority figures, 4,000 homes, 48 government offices, 30 police stations and 20 mosques had been destroyed, along with many utilities, roads and schools. The UN Relief and Works Agency said 53 of its schools, clinics, warehouses and other installations in Gaza had been damaged or destroyed. Damage is estimated at about $1.6 billion.

Hamas responded to Israel’s unilateral ceasefire declaration by firing 16 rockets and mortars into southern Israel to show it had not been crushed. It then announced a week-long truce of its own, and demanded Israel withdraw all its forces and open border crossings for humanitarian supplies.

Israeli troops had already started leaving, and Ehud Olmert, Israel’s Prime Minister, said he wanted the rest to leave “as quickly as possible”.

Gordon Brown attended a hastily convened summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh yesterday, chaired by President Mubarak of Egypt and President Sarkozy of France. Also attending were Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary-General, and senior politicians from Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Jordan.

The Prime Minister told reporters on his flight to Egypt that Israel should allow humanitarian workers full access to Gaza and said that Britain had pledged an additional £20 million in aid. In an apparent criticism of the scale of the Israeli response to the Hamas rocket attacks, Mr Brown said that too many innocent people had died in the 22-day assault on Gaza. “We have yet to discover the full scale of the appalling suffering,” Mr Brown said. “But what is already clear is that too many innocent civilians, including hundreds of children, have been killed during the military offensive.”

Egypt agreed swiftly to organise an international donors’ conference to help to rebuild Gaza. The Europeans promised technical, military and diplomatic measures to address Israel’s key demand — that the smuggling of weapons to Hamas through tunnels beneath Egypt’s nine-mile border with Gaza be stopped.

Mr Brown said British naval vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden would help to intercept weapons from countries like Iran. “This fragile ceasefire has got to be followed immediately, if it is to be sustainable, by humanitarian access . . . by troop withdrawals, by an end to arms trafficking,” he said.

Israel’s security cabinet approved the unilateral ceasefire by seven votes to two on Saturday night. The move secured an end to the fighting before Barack Obama’s inauguration tomorrow, and ensured that Israel will have greater international understanding and legitimacy if forced to resume its offensive by further Hamas attacks.

Mr Olmert argued that Operation Cast Lead had seriously weakened Hamas and sent a powerful warning to Iran, Hezbollah and other regional enemies not to meddle with Israel.

“The IDF has dealt Hamas a severe blow, but the job has not been completed,” said Binyamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party.

Hamas put its policemen back on the streets yesterday, and broadcast messages from mosques congratulating Gazans on their resistance. In a televised speech, Ismail Haniya, Hamas’s political leader in Gaza, claimed that they had won a “great victory”.

Watershed weekend

January 17

— The Israeli security Cabinet votes in favour of a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, to begin at 2am the following day

— A United Nations official calls for a war crimes investigation after the deaths of two children, aged 5 and 7, in the Gazan town of Beit Lahiya. They died when an Israeli shell struck a three-storey building

January 18

— Hamas fires at least 15 rockets into Israel

— The Israelis respond with two airstrikes

— Moussa Abu Marzouk, Hamas’s deputy leader, declares a one-week ceasefire, but Israeli authorities report sporadic rocket attacks

— Israeli troops begin withdrawing from Gaza

— Egypt hosts summit of European and Arab leaders to co-ordinate policy on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Sources: Reuters; Haaretz

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