Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
I first met Raed al-Athamna when he was driving a journalist friend of mine around Gaza in his yellow, stretch-Mercedes taxi during the tense and violent days after Gaza militants captured Gilad Shalit, a young Israeli soldier, in the summer of 2006.
Raed seemed to be a good ‘fixer’ – attentive, sensible and with far-from-perfect but perfectly understandable English.
A few months later, I interviewed him in the rubble of Beit Hanoun – after Israeli tank shells slammed in to a relative’s home killing 18 members of his extended family early one morning as most were still sleeping.
Israel said a technical mishap caused the shells to stray from their intended targets and in to the residential neighbourhood where the Athamnas lived.
Its election time in Israel which, despite the weighty issues at stake, is always something of a let-down for people who like a bit of U.S. style political pageantry.
There are few, if any, stump speeches, rallies, debates. There is, however, blanket campaigning in the traditional media and of course on the internet as well. Here are a few campaign ads from the internet kicking off with Ehud Barak and his Labour Party.
Should Israel and/or its allies talk to men like these, the Palestinian Islamists of Hamas, who run the Gaza Strip?
That’s a question that has been revived this week following the end of Israel’s 22-day war in Gaza, which left Hamas rule apparently intact and 1.5 million people in desperate need, and the arrival in the White House of President Barack Obama, who has indicated he might be willing to talk to people his predecessor George W. Bush had shunned.
It was really only a matter of time.
Within days of the end of Israel’s offensive in Gaza – which included the dropping of massive ‘bunker-buster’ bombs to destroy the vast network of tunnels that run under Gaza’s border with Egypt – the tunnels are up and running again.
The tunnelers say they are not interested in smuggling weapons - the food and fuel that Gazans so desperately need are far more profitable contraband anyway.
But beyond the raw realities of war — more than 1,100 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead — the three-week conflict has also created a peculiar intersection with music, literature and cinema, in the surreal way that wars sometimes do.
It’s not easy being the secretary-general of the United Nations.
For three weeks, the South Korean U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has been urging Israel and Hamas militants in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza Strip to stop their fighting. He has described himself as “deeply alarmed” and said he “deplores” the latest war to erupt in the Middle East. Ban said it has caused an “unbearable” number of casualties – over 1,000 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have died since the war began on Dec. 27.
But his appeals – backed by a legally binding U.N. Security Council resolution urging an immediate ceasefire – have fallen on deaf ears. The Israeli offensive has intensified and Hamas militants have continued to fire rockets at southern Israel.
Who remembers the Google Wars website that was doing the viral rounds a few years back – a mildly amusing, non-scientific snapshot of the search-driven, internet world we live in?
It lives on at www.googlebattle.com where you can enter two search terms, say ‘Lennon vs. McCartney’ or ‘Left vs. Right’, and let the internet pick a winner by the number of search hits each word gets.
The slow pace of talks between Hamas and Egyptian mediators on Cairo’s proposal for a Gaza ceasefire is raising speculation in Israel over whether the Islamist group is playing for time, hoping to get a better deal once Barack Obama is sworn in as U.S. president on Tuesday.
Israel also has been in no rush to call off the offensive it began on Dec. 27 with the declared aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks on its southern towns.
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
Voices get loud and excited over the radio Reuters news crews use in Gaza to call in the latest information. Some people complain there are no “Western reporters” inside. But we all work for Reuters, a global agency that sets the international standard.
After two full weeks of bombardment we are all worried about our families but we work and work the story. We hope it will stop.
Gaza was the place where, in Biblical times, the Jewish hero Samson took up with a harlot. That was before he met Delilah and, succumbing at last to her charms and tricks, revealed the secret of his strength. Shorn of his curly locks while he slept, Samson lost his superhuman strength. He was taken to Gaza and blinded by the Philistines with a white-hot poker. But his hair, and his strength, gradually grew back unnoticed, and at last Samson pushed over a pillar in their temple and brought the building down upon them, killing many. Or so the Bible story goes.
After 38 years of military occupation, Israel handed Gaza back to the Palestinians in 2005. But it has not led to peace. Hamas Islamist militants opposed to the Jewish state in 2007 ousted those Palestinians disposed to make peace with Israel, and have fired crude but potentially lethal rockets into the land lying to the east for months, in a constant skirmish with the Israelis. Israel struck hard with an aerial offensive a week ago.