Home > News > News in Brief: 5 January 2009

News in Brief: 5 January 2009

A brief list of news clips for the day:

Civilian casualties rise as Israel presses in on Gaza City. So far, Israeli units have faced lighter-than-expected resistance from Palestinian militants in the second full day of a ground invasion that followed eight days of aerial bombardment intended to undermine the Gaza’s control by the militant Islamic group Hamas. But civilian casualties are rising. Medical officials in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip said Monday that 523 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli attacks, including 111 children. (McClatchy)

Molten Lead By Uri Averny. Those who decided to close the crossings – under whatever pretext – knew that there is no real ceasefire under these conditions. That is the main thing. Then there came the small provocations which were designed to get Hamas to react… the aim was to find a pretext for the termination of the ceasefire, in a way that made it plausible to put the blame on the Palestinians. And indeed, after several such small actions, in which Hamas fighters were killed, Hamas retaliated with a massive launch of rockets, and – lo and behold – the ceasefire was at an end. Everybody blamed Hamas. (Ma’an)

MIDEAST: In a Battle for Legitimacy. A confident Israel launched the second half of its war against Hamas in Gaza self-assured that it has already secured two central components of the war: the reaffirmation of its right to self-defence, and the legitimacy of its military action. The latter, Israel reckons, derives directly from the modesty, not necessarily of the scope of the operation (the most extensive against Palestinians in 40 years), but of its declared war goals. (IPS)

Hamas looks to Hezbollah’s inspiration. The similarities between what is taking place in Gaza today, and what took place in Lebanon in 2006, are striking. Both wars were waged by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) against a small military group, seen as “heroes and resistance leaders” by the Arab world, labeled as “terrorists” by Israel and the United States. (Asia Times)

Behind Gaza Operation, An Uneasy Triumvirate. With national elections just over a month away, two of the three are vying for Israel’s top job. For the moment, however, the offensive in Gaza is proving popular with Israelis, and Livni and Barak are reaping the benefits. Recent polls show them closing the gap with Likud party leader Netanyahu, who had opened up a wide lead based on his promise to take a hard line against Israel’s main adversaries — Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. (Washington Post)

Sarkozy: Hamas to blame for suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. French President Nicolas Sarkozy told three Lebanese newspapers that Hamas bore “a heavy responsibility for the sufferings of the Palestinian people” and that its rocket attacks had to stop. (Haaretz)

Despite ruling, Israel prevents foreign journalists from entering Gaza. The Ministry of Defense refused to allow foreign correspondents to cross over from Israel into the Gaza Strip on Monday, despite a court ruling, a representative of the foreign media in Israel said. (Haaretz)

The Lawnchair War in Israel. They gather every morning on the southern Israeli hilltop as the pairs of Apache helicopters on attack runs swoop over the Mediterranean coast and air strikes send charcoal clouds curling over the Gaza Strip skyline. They don’t seem to be bothered by the occasional Qassam rockets and mortar rounds that explode in the surrounding fields. They have come to watch the war. They come from Sderot, the southern Israeli town hardest hit years of persistent Palestinian rocket attacks that are the casus belli for the Israeli military campaign to destabilize Hamas. (Checkpoint Jerusalem)

An Iraqi City Divided, and Defined, by Its Walls. An Hour at a Crowded Baghdad Checkpoint Reveals Pervasive Nature of Capital’s Hated Barriers. (Washington Post)

Whose Interest Defines National Interest? The public’s inattention to foreign policy has inevitably led to a deep and persisting ignorance of the consequences of US foreign policy. The mainstream mass media, whose editors and reporters are themselves often biased in their perspectives and ignorant of the “facts on the ground,” has helped perpetuate a myth that American foreign policy is mainly an altruistic effort to export our domestic ideals… (Informed Comment)

Afghanistan: German Forces Face a Strategic Challenge in Early 2009. As Germany enters an election year, the government is again coming under pressure to revise the mandate covering the Bundeswehr’s operations under the auspices of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. (EurasiaNet)

Czech Presidency Promises Controversy. The rotating EU presidency has been taken over for the first half of the year by a country with a president who may refuse to sign the EU Treaty, and with a weak government that has more faith in the U.S. than in Europe. (IPS)

Monetarism enters bankruptcy. The US Federal Reserve era under Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, with their belief that central bank monetarist measures can indefinitely perpetuate the business-cycle boom phase, proved only that mainstream monetary economists read the same books. As the world is discovering, Milton Friedman’s mantra that “only money matters” turned out to be a very dangerous slogan. – Henry C K Liu This is the first article in a two-part report. (Asia Times)

LABOUR-SRI LANKA: Gloomy Prospects in 2009. If the global financial crisis slams the brakes on worker remittances from the Middle East, Sri Lanka’s top foreign exchange earner, it could severely exacerbate this country’s economic woes, analysts say. (IPS)

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