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Ear to the Ground

Hamas Official Killed, U.N. Compound Hit in Gaza

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Posted on Jan 15, 2009
Gaza UN fire
AP photo / Ashraf Amra

Palestinian firefighters try to put out a blaze at the U.N. compound in Gaza City after it was hit in an Israeli bombardment on Thursday. Flames engulfed the compound and a warehouse, destroying thousands of pounds of food and humanitarian supplies intended for Palestinian refugees.

Another high-ranking Hamas official, Interior Minister Said Siyam, was killed on Thursday near Gaza City, according to Israeli and Hamas sources. Israeli leaders faced international criticism after their forces also struck both the United Nations compound and a high-rise in Gaza City where several media organizations are based.


Mr Siyam is one of the most senior Hamas leaders killed in the 20-day Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip.

He became a member of the “collective leadership” of the militant group in 2004 after Sheikh Yassin and Abdel-Aziz Rantissi were assassinated by Israel.

His death came at the end of a day of fierce clashes which also saw the UN compound in Gaza City shelled by Israeli troops.

Unrwa spokesman Christopher Gunness said three of the agency’s employees were hurt in the attack.

About 700 people were sheltering in the compound at the time, he said, and the fire burnt through stocks of food and medicine, approaching five full fuel tanks.

Mr Olmert met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and apologised for the attack, but said Palestinian fighters had been firing from the UN site.

“It is absolutely true that we were attacked from that place, but the consequences are very sad and we apologise for it,” he said.

“I don’t think it should have happened and I’m very sorry.”

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Reporters Without Borders:

Reuters said an Israeli army spokesman contacted the news agency’s Jerusalem bureau shortly before the explosion to verify the location of its Gaza bureau. Reuters had informed the Israeli army of the exact location at the start of the war and was assured by the Israelis on several occasions that it would not be a target.

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By Sepharad, January 16, 2009 at 11:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Fadel, I don’t hate Arabs and Moslems (have longtime friends as well as colleagues in both groups) but I do hate fanatics and killers, which describes Hamas and Hezbollah members. They care nothing for the Palestinian people except as pawns in their religious and sectarian agendas, which include but are not limited to the destruction of Israel. Israelis are not perfect, but they have no good choices in defending themselves from such people. It’s really not so coincidental that things like rocketing and the second intifada begin every time there is some small breakthrough in understsanding and the beginnings of building an economy with the Palestinians. In the second intifada, Palestinians in business relationships with Israelis were didproportionately targeted for execution by the militants. Then it was Fatah supporters in Gaza who became victims of Hamas killers. And now, just as some economic progress was growing in the West Bank, Hamas ratchets up rocketing. If you really care about the welfare of the Palestinians and their growth into their own nation, you have got to think about stuff like this seriously.

The kind of posturing that goes on on this site is doing nothing for the Palestinians. It’s sheer frivolous ego and despicable because it keeps people distracted from basic issues that might make a huge difference. These issues may not be as dramatic and colorful as all the flag-waving and emoting but they matter just the same. As a student of Al Andalus yourself, you must be aware of all the ways in which this sort of self-indulgent fantasy and rivalry contributed to the downfall of a great civilization. Once the fanatics took over—the taigas—the center no longer held. If there had been responsible governing and unity, the Spaniards could have have accomplished the Reconquista and Inquisition that destroyed both Islamic and Jewish culture in that time and place.

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By aliblues, January 16, 2009 at 9:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Sepharad,
It seems that your hate for the Arabs & Muslims has blinded you to overwhelming evidence of Zionist regime’s crimes over the last 60 years. As you very well know the creation of this state to start with was illegal, how ever now its a reality that has to be accepted, but one thing is clear, your sort of guys (ZIONISTS)are very clever, your propaganda machine is very well lubricated financially , a simple example of it is that the military forces from the very first day of the existence of Israel has done nothing but offering destruction to its neighbours is called the IDF(Israeli defence force), but all it does is invading ,even simple words are chosen very carefully in order to deceive the public with smallest details. despite all this propaganda, these crimes smell too much and no amount of air freshner can dissipate that.
kind regards

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By Fadel Abdallah, January 16, 2009 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

By Sepharad, January 15 at 8:44 pm #
(Unregistered commenter)

Cyrena, Eileen, you guys are so bloody-minded yet so naive.
It’s obvious, Sepharad, that you’re the one who is “so bloody-minded” and I cannot even find the words to describe how frightening and dangerous an old woman you are! And the problem that you claim to be a scholar who is writing a book about Al-Andalus, despite your obvious hate for Arabs and Muslims. There can be no peace or compromise between a person like you and a person like me!

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By cyrena, January 16, 2009 at 12:28 am Link to this comment

“..I can’t believe you haven’t troubled to read up on Hamas and Hezbollah. There are plenty of books about these guys, some written by themselves, others by people who study such groups…”


Good thing you can’t believe it sheparad, since it would be INCORRECT, at least in my case. I can’t speak for Eileen, but *I’m* ONE OF ‘those people’ who STUDY such ‘groups’.

So you’ll have to accept it as a standard stipulation that I’ve READ THE BOOKS, and even written a few myself.

I’ll be happy to provide a list if you like.

Ah! But you said you were possibly short of book space now, or maybe you’re working on more or something, if I remember correctly. I know the dilemma well. So I highly recommend the Kindle Reader. You can download (wirlessly and in minutes)hundreds or full books and multiple other information web sites to help catch you up to the 21st Century.

Because sheparad, you can type or cut and paste your fingers to the nubs, but at the end of the day, none of these back and forth petty (prepacked propaganda) details about what the Palestinians/Hamas did, and what the IDF didn’t do, cannot DISTRACT the eyes of the world, (including mine) from the unmitigated, horrific, atrocious actions of the Israeli regime directing this massacre, and those of you who pathetically attempt to justify it. THAT is the ‘psychosis’ of which you speak.

It is the psychosis of a group of people who have literally gone over the edge…totally berserk. Blowing up UN facilities,killig innocent civilians that are mostly women and children, destroying the already limited means for any of these people to get any kind of food/water/supplies. Those facilities are the United Nations for Christ’s sake, and the Israelis INTENTIONALLY targeted them – TWICE now. It DOESN’T GET ANY CRAZIER THAN THAT!

And then there’s the barring of any outside journalists, (even the most severely psychotic don’t want their actions so visible, and before modern technology, the Israelis could get away with this a lot better) and now the intentional destruction of the building housing international media such as reuters, not to mention all of the Palestinian media/communication apparatus.

Sorry sheparad, but every Zionist Israeli has obviously lost it completely, and you’re just another Zionist situated in the US, who happens to be losing it right along with ‘em. Thankfully, you are actually among a minority of American Jews who are caught up in this fall into the abyss. Most American Jews, both secular and religious, are as highly critical of the Israeli military assault on Gaza and the Universal agreement to civilized behavior as I am.

So get this straight, many people…scholars, and authors from across the intellectual spectrum have LONG condemned Israel’s 60 year old oppression and extermination of its Palestinian Indigenous population. And that was LONG before the creation of Hamas, (1987) or Hezbollah, (1983). BOTH of these organizations that eventually became political parties in the struggle for self-determination, are the direct product/result of Israel’s duplicitous manipulations and needless to say, the never- ending occupation.

So you can’t distract from the atrocities that the whole world can see, by trying to continue the characterization of Hamas and/or Hezbollah as anything other than freedom fighters with peashooters, fighting a Goliath who states a mandate for Gaza to be nuke- wiped off the map, the same way America did Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
I rest my case, and I think it would be wise for you to do the same. Like I said, you’re just digging yourself deeper and deeper into the denial/ madness.

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By Sepharad, January 15, 2009 at 9:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cyrena, Eileen, you guys are so bloody-minded yet so naive. The IDF captured a Hamas map of one district in Gaza city featuring boobytrap explosives, secondary explosives, firing positions ... they are killing their own people deliberately, setting off their own explosions to do maximum civilian damage to coincide with airstrikes and tankfire at probable targets. Even if you don’t believe this, and I doubt, given your psychoses, you will, ask yourselves this: given that Hamas has tunnels and weapons caches and rocket launchers all over the place, WHY, knowing that Israel would eventually react, didn’t they build decent bomb shelters for Gaza civilians before they started firing rockets at a rate they knew Israel would finally have to respond to? They didn’t build them for the same reason that they kept launching rockets: terrorism is basically theatre. They WANTED large numbers of civilians killed because it makes good propaganda.
I can’t believe you haven’t troubled to read up on Hamas and Hezbollah. There are plenty of books about these guys, some written by themselves, others by people who study such groups.  But if that’s too much trouble, there was an informative article on the 1/14/09 op ed page of the Times by Jeffrey Goldberg, an Atlantic Mag correspondent who over the years has interviewed various high officials of both groups, and they tell you who they are and what they want in their own words. (Tom Friedman is right, Israel can’t bomb Hamas into moderation, but as he notes this time Israel has hurt them and maybe now they will stop shooting rockets at Israeli civilians. You notice Hezbollah did not leap in to the rescue, but had there not been the Lebanon war they probably would have. Hezbollah says if they knew Israel would react so strongly they wouldn’t have kidnapped and murdered those two soldiers. Fine. Now they know. In any case, the loss of civilian life is appalling. Israel did its best to keep the casualties down but Hamas tried to make sure that as many as possible would be killed.

On this site, in its vacuum, you can believe and say whatever you want and there are enough wingnuts to believe you. But it’s dangerous to lose contact with reality. If you can’t recognize what Hamas is doing to the Gazans, what it HASN’T done for them in all the time they’ve had—though they’ve managed to construct beautiful buildings and offices for themselves, and though they have plenty to eat—have you ever seen a skinny Hamas or Hezbollah fighter or their wives?—they have not shared with their people.

Thank God Obama is more analytical than you. He’s not going to give Israel any more support than it deserves. And he may be the first American President to get the Palestinians the state they deserve. (I’m with Amos Oz: the Palestinian state must have its own army capable of defending it from enemies inside and out. And I think Fatah and any moderates there still may be left will know exactly who the enemies are.) People like you want to keep the Arabs quaint and exotic and pretend that they are innocent of all the bloodshed in that region. Israel wants a successful Palestian state as a neighbor, and as a business partner—a kind of Mediterranean union—which will provide people with decent jobs and a real life. That’s the only way there will ever be peace. Jews aren’t suicidal—they don’t want perpetual war.

You’ll probably have some venomous drivel in response, but I won’t be around the next few days to read it.

PS - Cyrena, Shenonymous asked you for examples of violent Jews. On a different long thread I gave some examples.

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By Shift, January 15, 2009 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Eileen Fleming for your photos and briefings.
They help to understand existence in Gaza more fully.
Israel has become soul-sick to the extent of being genocidal monsters.  I personally abhor Israeli actions in Gaza.  They have self identified as a terrorist State and bring revulsion to all.  They bring hell to earth.

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By cyrena, January 15, 2009 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

From the Reuters piece:

•  “..Reporters Without Borders has written to the Israeli army high command asking it to shed light on the circumstances of today’s incident. The press freedom organisation points out that, under international humanitarian law, news media must be given the same protection as civilians…”
Anybody see the cruel irony here?
RWB is certainly correct here. We ALL know the deal: Humanitarian Law most definitely mandates the same protections for news media that are afforded CIVILIANS…under International Humanitarian Law.
And, we see how well those mandates have worked out in terms of Israel actually abiding by them. I mean really, if the Israelis can routinely target UNITED NATIONS FACILITIES, and INTENTIONALLY bomb the media center after assuring the press that they would not, (that’s typical Israeli style war tactics) then I think that’s as clear an indication as any that Israel has been giving the UN the finger for decades. And…getting away with it.
The so called apology from the obscenely corrupt and morally bankrupt Olmert just continues to heap poison on the wounds of the dying. Israel couldn’t care less about Ban Ki-moon (who’s now enraged himself) or anything at all about the UN or the International Community that includes the rest of the world.

Nope. Israel will continue to do what we’ve been watching them do for 20 days now, and make it as clear as death, that they DARE anybody to stop them!

Nobody has.

But then, nobody ever has; Not in the past 60 years.

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By eileen fleming, January 15, 2009 at 4:11 pm Link to this comment

Day 20 of Israeli War On Gaza
By Sameh A. Habeeb, Photojournalist, Humanitarian & Peace Activist in Gaza Strip.

Dear Editors, Journalists and Friends,

“Main actions: Israel targets hospitals, United Nations premises, Press offices,  theaters and densely populated buildings in west of Gaza. Additionally, people are being used as human shields”

Israeli War: Water Crisis in Gaza

Israeli War: Bread Crisis

Israeli War: DESTRUCTION and Killing

A day of War 1

Children playing despite bombings:

A day of War 2

Full report for the last 20th days of War on Gaza War:

Daily Photos:

Contact Sam:
Mob: 00972599306096
Landline: 0097282802825
E-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Skype: Gazatoday, Facebook: Sameh A. habeeb

public service by eileen fleming, senior correspondent and founder WAWA:

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By compassx, January 15, 2009 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If you are like me the knowledge of this slaughter is sickening and weighing heavily on you daily. We are NOT powerless.

Let us mimic the rest of the world, Europe, Pakistan, and others who take to the street and attack!! We need to make some noise, people, be creative and go on the offensive!

Riots are legitimate reactions to grave injustice.

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