Egypt bent at the border

CAIRO (IPS) - Tens of thousands of houses inside the Gaza Strip were destroyed by air strikes and artillery during Israel’s recently concluded military campaign. Areas along Egypt’s border with the hapless enclave, meanwhile, have not been immune from the devastation. “Dozens of homes on the Egyptian side of the border were badly damaged as a result of nearby Israeli air strikes,” Hatem al-Bulk, journalist and political activist, told IPS. “Most people living within two kilometers of the frontier have left for safer locations.” 

Israel's "Dahiya Doctrine" comes to Gaza

In the last days before Israel imposed a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza to avoid embarrassing the incoming Obama administration, it upped its assault, driving troops deeper into Gaza City, intensifying its artillery bombardment and creating thousands more displaced people. Israel’s military strategy in Gaza, even in what its officials were calling the “final act,” followed a blueprint laid down during the Lebanon war more than two years ago. Jonathan Cook analyzes. 

Gazans do not blame Hamas

RAMALLAH (IPS) - Humanitarian aid is being rushed into Gaza as Israel and Egypt open their borders temporarily to allow convoys of aid to pass through. While Israeli drones circle the skies above, Hamas security men are back on the streets attempting to restore some semblance of law and order. Policemen are directing traffic. Several looters have been arrested. Gazans who survived the battering inflicted by Israel’s 22-day military campaign, codenamed Operation Cast Lead, are venturing out and trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. 

Gaza war divides Arab governments from people

CAIRO (IPS) - Street protests against Israel’s assault on Gaza continue to be held almost daily. The anger has not ended with the ceasefire called. In Cairo, and in many Arab capitals, much of the anger is directed at the Egyptian regime, seen by critics as complicit in the Israeli campaign. After three weeks of punishing assaults from air, land and sea, the Palestinian death toll has soared past 1,200, most of them civilians. 

Resistance rejects international Gaza force

CAIRO (IPS) - Since the outset of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, calls have been renewed for an “international force” to protect the civilian population. But Palestinian resistance factions, chief among them Hamas, reject the idea outright. “The resistance will not accept international forces [in the Gaza Strip],” Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas’s Damascus-based political bureau said recently on Syrian state television. “We know that such forces would only serve Israel and its occupation.” 

Thousand deaths do not put off EU

BRUSSELS (IPS) - Senior European Union figures have signaled that they could push ahead with plans to strengthen formal ties with Israel, even though more than 1,000 have now been killed by the bombardment of Gaza. Two conflicting statements about EU-Israeli relations were delivered 14 January, as the number of Palestinians, about one-third of them children, killed in Gaza continued to climb. 

Anger begins to knock at Israel's borders

RAMALLAH, occupied West Bank (IPS) - A number of armed attacks have taken place on Israel’s borders with Palestinian territories in the last six days as Arab public anger over the death and destruction wrought on Gaza spills over from massive street demonstrations. Israeli security officials have voiced concern that the Gaza violence could affect Israel’s borders and that Israeli settlers and soldiers in the Palestinian West Bank could be targeted by armed Palestinians. 

Ceasefire moves fading away

CAIRO (IPS) - A week after the unveiling of a Franco-Egyptian ceasefire proposal aimed at stopping the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian resistance faction Hamas and on the face of it Israel, are still discussing the fine print of an agreement. “Details of the proposal remain unclear,” Abdelaziz Shadi, coordinator of Cairo University’s Israeli studies program told IPS. “Both sides are still in the process of studying its terms to determine whose interests it serves.” 

Gaza sewage lagoons could collapse

JERUSALEM (IRIN) - The Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) is concerned that waste water lagoons in the northern Gaza Strip could collapse due to the current fighting between Israel and Hamas. “With Israel’s latest bombardment, there is a real risk that earth retention walls of a number of wastewater lagoons will break, releasing an estimated three million cubic meters of wastewater into the surrounding communities,” said Shaddad Attili, head of the PWA, in a statement on 12 January. 

Tensions running high on the Egypt-Gaza border

RAFAH, EGYPT (IRIN) - With Israel’s two-week military offensive in Gaza showing no signs of abating, patience is running thin among those waiting to get into the Strip from the Egyptian border town of Rafah, the Palestinians’ only access to the outside world that is not controlled by Israel. Every day, local and foreign doctors, nurses, truck drivers and journalists, among others, wait on the Egyptian side of the border for the opportunity to enter Gaza during the daily three-hour ceasefire.