Cyberwanderer’s Blog

January 26, 2008

Window to the Middle East Conflict in the Internet Age (part 1 of 2)

Filed under: World News — cyberwanderer @ 5:57 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

laptop_outdoor2.jpgThe internet age is providing people of this planet a new window to the world, whether it is the past, present or a peek into the future. The events in the middle east this past few weeks took me on an internet quest to see what information is out there. This is by no means an extensive history because I don’t have the time for in-depth research right now. First, the events of the past few weeks.

Current Events

Israel sealed Gaza

On 18th of January 2008, Israel closes vital Gaza crossings (AP) due to surge in rocket attacks coming from Gaza. This stopped the supply of food and fuel into Gaza. Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror said “There is a government decision that there will not be a humanitarian crisis in Gaza”. John Ging, the Gaza-based head of UNRWA, the U.N. agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, said “The supplies that are in most desperate need is the fuel,” he said. “This is a very precarious situation.” Before the blockade, Gaza is already suffering blackouts of up to 12 hours a day and aid workers warns it could turn critical if the closure lasted into next week.

Blackout hit Gaza

`800,000 in darkness’ as Gaza power cut off ( Gaza’s main power plant shut down on January 20, 2008. “At least 800,000 people are now in darkness,” said Derar Abu Sissi, general director of the plant, which was shut down by Hamas, the militant Islamic group that controls Gaza and says it can’t operate the plant without the fuel delivery. “The catastrophe will affect hospitals, medical clinics, water wells, houses, factories, all aspects of life.” Hamas claim five patients have died as a result of the electricity cut. Bakeries are running out of bread to sell. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arye Meckel refer to the blackout as “a Hamas ploy to pretend there is some kind of crisis to attract international sympathy”.

openquote.jpg Officials of the European Union, which funds fuel for the plant, confirmed yesterday’s shipment was blocked and that the reserves had dried up. An estimated one million of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are affected by the shutdown. closequote.jpg

Gaza-Egypt wall collapse

Gaza Wall Knocked Down; Thousands Pour Into Egypt (AP – January 23, 2008). Thousands of Palestinians crossed into Egypt as Egypt guard and Hamas police stood by. call it “The day Gaza’s Berlin Wall came down“. BBC News reported on January 23rd 2008 that Gazans make new border wall hole using bulldozer. Times Online January 24 article Hamas ‘spent months cutting through Gaza wall in secret operation’ revealed Hamas have used oxy-acetylene torches to weaken the metal wall and have been doing it for months. This indicates that the collapse of 2/3 of the border wall was well planned.


In a sign that the collapse of the wall might be working to the advantage of Hamas, Reuters Africa report (Jan. 25) Jordanians rally in support of Hamas in Gaza.The demonstrators lambasted Arab rulers, without naming them, accusing them of standing idly by as ordinary Gazans suffer and called on Egypt to allow freedom of movement for Palestinians. Today’s Globe and Mail states that Militant who oversaw weakening of wall says initial plan was to ambush Israeli tanks.

openquote.jpg “We did these things so that if Israel entered the Philadephi Corridor [a narrow stretch of no-man’s land between Gaza and Egypt] it would be easy to enter and attack them,” said Abu Uday, using a nom de guerre. Referred to by other participants as the brains of the border-busting operation,… “Our message to the world is that it’s unacceptable to starve the Palestinian people. You can’t do it, you can’t destroy our nation,” he said. closequote.jpg


Egypt, under pressure, starts closing border

Ian Black of Guardian Unlimited (Jan 25) opinion piece Mubarak Under Pressure talks about conundrum faced by Egypt’s Mubarak.

openquote.jpg Yet even with troops and riot police rolling out barbed wire and water cannon, restoring the status quo – the border sealed and the Palestinians shut in behind it – will not be easy, especially after Mubarak vowed that he would not stand by while 1.5 million people “starved under Israeli’s siege”…. So Palestinian suffering in Gaza strikes a powerful chord with Egyptian public opinion and fuels opposition to an unpopular regime which is blamed for not doing enough to alleviate it, as well as anger with Israel and the US. closequote.jpg

U.S. is concern at the collapse of the wall. U.S. Condoleeza Rice pressured Egypt to close the border (Reuters Africa Jan 24)

openquote.jpg “I understand that it’s a difficult situation for them. But it is an international border. It needs to be protected and I believe that Egypt understands the importance of doing that,” closequote.jpg

Reuters January 25th report:

openquote.jpg The fall of the Rafah wall punched a new hole in a U.S.-backed campaign to curb the clout of Hamas and strengthen Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, nearly eight months after the Islamist group routed Abbas’s Fatah forces in Gaza. closequote.jpg

It also report that Hamas is challenging Egypt’s attempt to close the border.

openquote.jpg Egypt started to close its breached border with the Gaza Strip on Friday but Palestinian militants bulldozed a new opening in a challenge to Cairo and Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-run territory. Palestinian crowds cheered as Hamas militants used a bulldozer to flatten sections of the chain and concrete fence. In a scene broadcast live on television around the world, Egyptian riot police watched from a distance as hundreds of people poured into Egypt. “We insist and urge our Egyptian brothers that there must be a mechanism to allow the passage of people and goods through the Rafah crossing in a legal and organized manner,” Hamas government spokesman Taher al-Nono said. closequote.jpg

Violence continue……

openquote.jpg Earlier on Friday, Israel killed four Palestinian militants in an overnight air strike on Rafah. Violence has also flared in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian teenager one day after militants killed an Israeli border policeman and infiltrated a Jewish settlement near Bethlehem. closequote.jpg

Hamas future plans ?

Globe and Mail “Hamas foils Egyptian attempt to close border” gave a glimpse into what Hamas might be planning to do in the future.

openquote.jpg “The people are happy with us,” the al-Qassam member explained. “They feel we destroyed our Berlin Wall.” In an interview, he said one option Hamas was considering was to muster hundreds of thousands of people to march north to force open the Erez Crossing, which marks Gaza’s northern border with Israel.“This time we knocked at the door of Egypt, and we tore the wall down. Next time we’ll go to Erez and we’ll mobilize half a million, a million people,” Mr. Yousef said. He acknowledged that such a strategy might lead to violence and casualties, but said drastic measures were needed to convince the world that it needs to pressure Israel into ending its blockade of Gaza. “A lot of people will be killed, but it will force the world to do something.” closequote.jpg

Here are some online videos of the wall’s collapse:

[AP video] [CNN report] [AlJazeera report] [Another scene from AlJazeera] [BBC News]

That’s all for now.

Next: History of Middle East, The Israel – Palestinian Conflict

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1 Comment »

  1. What do you think of this ? Shoher is arguably the most right Israeli today, but he argues Israel should talk to Hamas as Egypt will not maintain the blockade of Gaza.

    Comment by Alex — February 6, 2008 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

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