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Saturday, January 31, 2009

January Rocket Calendar

Q=Qassam (may include Katyusha-style rockets)
QS=Qassam landing short in Gaza
M=Mortar
F=Fatality (F=Gazan, F=Israeli)
(G)=Grad (included in Qassam count, not consistent yet)

M*- Apparently upgraded 120mm mortars
MS=Mortar landing short
P - unnamed "projectiles"
(Paren) indicates unconfirmed Palestinian claims

* - Fatal non-rocket attack

K=Katyushas from Lebanon

Mortars are severely undercounted since they simply don't make the news any more.

Yellow=day Israel sent aid to Gaza

January 2009
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa




1
2
3




59Q (9G)
5M
41Q (4G)
5M
28Q
10M

4
5
6
7
8
9
10
50Q
5M
39Q(4G)
5M
30Q
3M
24Q(8G)
1M
30Q
4K
30Q (7G)
16Q (4G)
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
28Q (3G)
20Q (3G)
3M

18Q
5M

11Q
5M

3K
29Q (3G)
21Q (3G)
4M
27Q
4M

18
19
20
21
22
23
24
("CeaseFire")
13Q (3G)
4M


8MS




25
26
27
28
29
30
31
(1QS)

*
1Q
(7M)
1Q
(1M)
1G
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
4Q
8M

3M
1Q
1Q(1G)





A day without yellow doesn't necessarily mean the crossings were closed; I just may not have seen the reports of them being specifically open.

January 27 the crossings were closed immediately after a fatal attack on an IDF patrol outside Gaza during the day, but goods didget transferred in the morning.

All previous calendars here.

PalArab news roundup 1-31-09

Al Ahram is reporting increasing tensions between Hamas leaders in Gaza and Damascus.

Egypt arrested some armed Palestinian Arabs emerging from a tunnel in Rafah, who told them that there were at least seven others that the Egyptians missed.

The PalArab press latches onto another American Israel-basher, this time Ramsey Clark, who is calling the Gaza op a "genocide."

Hamas denied that it had anything to do with the murder of a Fatah teacher in Gaza last week, but the Palestine Press Agency is warning them to 'fess up or they will name names. Meanwhile, the MSM is slowly starting to report on Hamas murders during and after the operation.

Doctors in Gaza are now claiming that 90% of Gazans suffer from some sort of mental disorders, blaming Israel. It is unclear what percentage might have been suffering beforehand.

Palestinian Arabs are still up in arms over the idea that Hamas will set up an alternative to the PLO, which is still not being reported much in the Western media. One Palestinian Arab blogger is trying to get a million signatures on his blog against the idea. So far, he has about 65.

Terror group Hizb ut-Tahrir gave a lecture in Qalqilya, adding another extremist group to the mix in the West Bank.

The BBC's Gaza appeal debacle

The BBC last week made a strange decision not to broadcast an appeal to help Gazans. In their words, "We decided not to broadcast the DEC's public appeal because we wished to avoid any risk of compromising public confidence in the BBC's impartiality in the context of covering a continuing news story where issues of responsibility for civilian suffering and distress are intrinsic to the story and remain highly contentious."

Anyone who ever watches how the BBC covers Israel cannot but laugh at this absurd logic. Israelis and Zionists have no problem with the millions of dollars being spent to help Gazans; only with the millions being given to Hamas, directly or indirectly. Israel itself spends incredible amounts of time, effort and money to help Gazans. Israel has never protested aid going to Gazans from WHO, the Red Cross or any other charity group.

In a weird way, the BBC in making this decision seems to have betrayed its own genteel anti-semitism. While no Jewish or Zionist group asked the BBC not to air the appeal, the Beeb assumed that the selfish, powerful Jews would be upset at giving money to Gazans. Rather than deal with those imaginary protests the BBC thought that they should throw the Elders a bone, deny the appeal and use it as "proof" of their objectivity.

One reason that the BBC is so skittish is because of the Balen report that showed the BBC to have anti-Israel bias. While the BBC has spent enormous amounts of time and money to keep the report secret, it appears to have made an impact on the BBC - but in the wrong way. Rather than actually improve its reporting, the Beeb instead decided to make cosmetic decisions like quashing the appeal for Gazan aid.

The BBC's vaunted "impartiality," of course, mistakes evenhandedness for reality. The BBC made the assumption that Zionists would be as upset at aid being given to Arabs as Arabs would if the BBC appealed for bomb shelters for Sderot. That may be evenhanded but it is hardly impartial. It betrays the BBC's biases.

And now, instead of dealing with imaginary threats from the all-powerful Jewish lobby, they have to deal with very real threats from very real people.

From News of the World:
NEWSNIGHT hardman Jeremy Paxman was chased onto a tube train by a raging Palestinian supporter.

Shocked commuters watched as the presenter leapt into a carriage, pursued by a protester who was outraged at the BBC’s refusal to broadcast a Gaza appeal.

‘Rotweiller’ Paxman ended up on the receiving end of a verbal rant at London’s Green Park station.

After fleeing down the escalators, Paxo, 58, managed to squeeze in between the closing doors of a train.

He told a friend: “A man started shouting at me, ‘Paxman, you are a Zionist agent’.

“He pursued me down the escalators, moving very quickly to get me. I turned round and told him I’d tell him my opinions on Gaza if he settled down but he carried on shouting.

And this is not an isolated incident. There have been protests outside BBC buildings over the past week.

So now the BBC will have to bend over backwards to prove to anti-semitic, anti-Zionist idiots that they are not the Zionist tools they appear to be to protestors. One example is a former BBC journalist and now government minister:
Others, including Health Minister Ben Bradshaw, pointed the finger at Israel. Insinuating the BBC had bowed to pressure from the Jewish state, he said: "I am afraid the BBC has to stand up to pressure from the Jewish state occasionally."
It would be nice, of course, if the BBC would actually start to be as fair and impartial as it pretends to be.

Friday, January 30, 2009

What is the worst thing you can call a Hamas supporter?

As I reported yesterday, in a story that has been completely ignored by practically all the media, Hamas is planning to create its own alternative to the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arabs, not only in the area once known as Palestine but in other countries.

As can be expected, the PLO is not keen on the idea. The head of the Fatah bloc in the Palestinian Legislative Council, Azzam Al-Ahmed, has slammed Hamas and the Arab countries that support it, like Syria and Qatar, by saying that the leaders of these states were "Zionists want to divide the Arabs and the Palestinian revolution, who sabotage and tamper in the Palestinian arena."

He called a stop to those "
Zionists who rule the Arabs in some Arab countries because they have destroyed much of the Arab situation in this country and believe that they can now destroy the Palestine Liberation Organization."

He added, "We will not be silent for a long time after today and there will be an open confrontation between the Arabs and the Zionists [supporters of Hamas.]"

If someone in the Western world wants to insult someone else they would call them a terrorist, murderer or sociopath. But if an Arab wants to insult terrorists, murderers and/or sociopaths, he has to call them Zionists.

Thank you and a question (open thread)

With one day left in the month, I have more than doubled my previous record for pageviews and visitors. I should hit 80,000 pageviews for January sometime tonight or tomorrow, and well over 60,000 visitors, numbers which blow my mind.

I have also posted more this month than any other, with at least 184 postings.

Thanks to all my readers, old and new.

Out of curiosity, if I would put together and expand on my best original posts in a (self-published) book, would anyone be interested in buying it? As I have thousands of posts from over the years, I would like to have a way for people to be able to find good articles from the past without having to dig. But writing a book, even a compilation of older stuff, takes a lot of time and effort, and before I consider it I wanted to make sure that there was an audience.

Either way, have a Shabbat Shalom and a good weekend!

Gaza cameraman burned - literally

According to Palestine Today, News photographer Abdul Rahman Al-Khatib received medium-degree burns after he caught fire during coverage of the burning of Israeli and American flags in a march organized by Hamas in Gaza City this afternoon.

Witnesses said the cameraman was covering the demonstration when a masked man poured gasoline on burning Israeli flags. The resulting explosion burned his hands and feet.

Gazans managed to extinguish the fire.

Now, that would be some good video!

UPDATE: This picture looks like it shows the very flag that burned poor Mr. al-Khatib (that's his name, not the name of his paper, as I originally wrote.)

Yeah, looks like gasoline.

Another NGO denial

I emailed to the ICRC, asking about aid trucks being hijacked in Gaza:
I am a news blogger trying to confirm stories about Hamas hijacking aid trucks in Gaza and distributing the aid to their own members. The UNRWA has denied that this has happened to their aid convoys, despite press reports to the contrary. However, there have been more reports of aid meant for the Palestinian Red Crescent being forcibly taken by Hamas over the past year (links upon request.)

Can you confirm that this has ever happened, and if so, how often? if it has happened, has the ICRC ever condemned Hamas for doing this?
The reply I received (three days later):
The ICRC carefully follows up and monitors the humanitarian assistance it
brings into Gaza, as it does in other conflict situations. It makes sure
that the aid reaches those who are most in need of it - in the case of
Gaza, wounded persons in hospitals and civilians affected by the conflict.

The ICRC does also sometimes transport humanitarian assistance for the
Palestine Red Crescent Society, which is delivered directly to the society
in Gaza. So far, no incidents such as those you mention have been reported
with aid channelled through the ICRC.

You may find more detailed information about the assistance the ICRC has
been able to bring into Gaza on our website,
http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/palestine?OpenDocument.

With best regards,
I didn't realize that the ICRC acts independently of the Pal Red Crescent in Gaza, so I probably didn't phrase it correctly. It seems that writing the Red Crescent directly would be a waste of time.

Another case of Hamas using human shields

From Palestinian Media Watch (I couldn't find the original article in Al Hayat:)
Members of a Gaza family whose farm was turned into a "fortress" by Hamas fighters have reported that they were helpless to stop Hamas from using them as human shields. They told the official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper that for years Hamas has used their property and homes for military installations from which to launch rockets into Israel, dig tunnels and store arms. According to the victims, those who tried to object were shot in the legs by Hamas.


The following are excerpts from the article from the official Palestinian Authority daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida:

The Abd Rabbo family kept quiet while Hamas fighters turned their farm in the Gaza strip into a fortress. Right now they are waiting for the aid promised by the [Hamas] movement after Israel bombed the farm and turned it into ruins...

The hill on which the Abd Rabbo family lives overlooks the Israeli town Sderot, a fact that turned it into an ideal military position for the Palestinian fighters, from which they have launched hundreds of rockets into southern Israel during the last few years. Several of the Abd Rabbo family members described how the fighters dug tunnels under their houses, stored arms in the fields and launched rockets from the yard of their farm during the nights.

The Abd Rabbo family members emphasize that they are not [Hamas] activists and that they are still loyal to the Fatah movement, but that they were unable to prevent the armed squads from entering their neighborhood at night. One family member, Hadi (age 22) said: "You can't say anything to the resistance [fighters], or they will accuse you of collaborating [with Israel] and shoot you in the legs."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 27, 2009]

I have yet to hear any human rights organization accuse Hamas of using human shields - they only accuse Israel, as Amnesty International did.

And the "eyewitnesses" who say that the IDF used human shields are suspect, to say the least. A reporter from YNet visited a house in Gaza during the operation where the IDF took over but the family was free to leave, and chose not to. Yet as soon as they saw the reporter they started screaming:

We come across a local family in one of the buildings. Grandparents, a few young parents, some children and a few toddlers. Sitting on a rug, their legs are covered in blankets and two soldiers are standing guard nearby. "What about them?" I ask. "They're free to go if they want to, but they don't want to," said Eilon Perry, Givati's operations officer. "They informed us they would be staying in the house and we have no choice but to accept that."

The family suddenly notices the cameras, and immediately, the expression on their faces changes. "We have no food," they say in Arabic, as one of the youngsters suggests we interview him in English about their plight. Givati troops are extremely concerned about being portrayed as abusing innocent civilians. Perry points to a stack of canned goods, water bottles and other provisions. "We provided some of that and they cook and eat quite well," he said. The Palestinians seem to understand him and one of them smiles. It's a war – they had to try.

Is there any doubt that this family is now telling every reporter and NGO in sight that they were used as human shields? And is there any doubt that the reporters and "human rights" workers will believe them uncritically and unconditionally, and carefully document their lies in their campaign to gather evidence to bolster their preconceived notions of IDF brutality?

PalArab news roundup 1-30-09

The Fatah-linked Palestine Press Agency details some $400 million of fraud, money laundering and illegally redirecting government contracts to private companies run by Hamas members in Gaza. One example was that the late Siad Siam who apparently founded front companies in Turkey and Egypt to funnel goods to Gaza through tunnels he controlled.

Hamas has been denying the house arrests, tortures, shootings and killings of Fatah members, although Ma'an reports that the evidence is "overwhelming." Hamas placed Fatah members in Gaza under curfew, forcing them to shut their shops and stay home after 6 PM.

A previously unknown group took credit for launching a "projectile" at Israel this morning. No mention of this in the Israeli media.

A competitor to Free Gaza? A ship called the "Brotherhood" is due to leave Beirut for Gaza on Sunday.

Egypt is banning people from visiting injured Gazans in Egyptian hospitals after the Muslim Brotherhood started turning these visits into political events.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

US Academic Boycotters for Terror

Ha'aretz yesterday wrote that a new US group was formed to advocate an academic boycott of Israel.

Ha'aretz had some fun at the expense of this group, called the "U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel", asking them if they would accept support from Hamas (they would) as well as this:
Lloyd wrote that to the best of his knowledge, all supporters of the anti-Israel boycott were also opposed to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Asked if logic wouldn't dictate that he and his colleagues boycott themselves, he responded, "Self-boycott is a difficult concept to realize. But speaking for myself, I would have supported and honored such a boycott had it been proposed by my colleagues overseas."


As is usual in these sorts of groups, their publicity is way out of proportion to their influence or size. They didn't even bother to get their own Internet domain; their website is a Wordpress blog.

Half of their "founding members" are Arab and all from California, except for one who is inexplicably from An Najah National University.

Rather than go through the tedious and pointless exercise of showing how stupid their position is (for example, they have no problem accusing Israel of "ethnic cleansing,") I'd like to concentrate on one part of their FAQ that proves their total hypocrisy concerning peace and their tacit support of terrorism:
[Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] is opposed by many Israelis who support the Palestinian struggle. By calling for BDS, aren’t we alienating these Israeli supporters?

Although the views of Israeli supporters regarding methods of struggle should be taken into consideration, Palestinians have the ultimate right to decide on the best method for attaining freedom from an illegal occupation and systematically oppressive regime. Supporters of the Palestinian struggle within the international community and within Israel itself have to stop attempting to dictate the terms of the struggle but support the Palestinian right to resist an illegal occupation, especially when the form of resistance is non-violent, as is the case with calls for BDS.
So while they are saying that they prefer non-violent means of protest, Palestinian Arabs have every right to attack innocent Israeli civilians via rockets, suicide attacks and bus bombings, if they think that is the "best method for attaining freedom."

Taking this one step further, if Palestinian Arabs should decide, as they did a few decades ago, that the best way for them to attain their freedom was by blowing up airplanes, attacking the Olympics and other terror attacks against the world, these idiotic academics will support them wholeheartedly, because to do otherwise would somehow infringe on Arab freedoms to choose to murder anyone they feel like by whichever method they deem the best.

The pure immorality of this position is breathtaking. And the fact that they end that same paragraph by calling themselves "morally consistent individuals supporting genuine peace" is far beyond ironic.

Hilariously, not only are these "academics" immoral, but they don't even know basic English grammar. From another FAQ:
Does Academic Boycott Infringe on Academic Freedom?

It may; but who’s Academic Freedom is being referred to within this context?
Perhaps they need to spend a bit more time actually studying things rather than pretending they already know it all. That way, they can avoid using their prestigious positions to make asses of themselves.

Saudi Vice, episode 25: The Exorcists


Life for our heroes at the Saudi Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice is not all fun and games. Sure, they will engage in high speed car chases to catch unmarried couples alone, or arrest people who allegedly cursed Mohammed, but sometimes they have very serious and complex cases as well.

Here is the sad story of witchcraft and sorcery, as recounted by the Saudi Gazette:
AL-QUWAI’IAH – Two Indonesian housemaids, identified as Suma Rini and Warnah Madthaying, cast a total of 55 spells on three families in Al-Quwai’iah. As a result of their sorcery, a boy was hospitalized for more than two months, a girl and some members of her family slipped into a coma and others were afflicted with different kinds of illnesses and pain.

According to Saudi national, S.Dh., the family’s tragedy began with the illness of one of their sons who was hospitalized in King Fahd Medical City Hospital for two months. When the housemaid, Suma Rini, visited the boy in the hospital, she told his mother that the boy was not in need of doctors or a hospital because he had a Satan in him, and that the boy’s eyes were a clear indication of this.

The housemaid’s words caused the mother to become suspicious, and she continued to press the housemaid for the reasons behind what she had said. The housemaid said that when she was in Indonesia, she used to read a book on sorcery, magic and conjuring the jinn. This created doubts which increased when one of the family’s relatives visited the boy in order to recite verses of the Holy Qur’an.

When the recitation began, the housemaid ran away saying that everything had become dark, which only increased the family’s suspicions. This led the family to conclude that all that was happening was in some way because of the housemaid.

As a result, the family decided to begin discussing the matter with the housemaid in a way which would not arouse her suspicions in order to discover what secrets she was hiding.

The housemaid was reassured that no harm would come to her, and she was also tempted with a fake check for a large amount of money and with air tickets.

At that point, she admitted that she had cast spells on the whole family, each member with a special charm according to what she wanted from him or her. She also said that she was able to cast spells but did not know how to undo them. The family agreed to give her even larger amounts of money provided she showed them where she had placed the magic charms so that they could find another person who was able to undo them.
What should a family do in such circumstances? Who has the specialized training necessary to fix powerful, magic spells - and put the maid in jail?

Why, it must be our heroes of the Muttawa!
The family informed the security authorities in Al-Quwai’iah and two staff members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice came to the family’s house. The housemaid then showed them 15 places in the house where she had put charms, which the Commission staff removed and undid. In her charms and spells, the housemaid had used pins, nails, broken glass, clothes hangers and symbols that no one could understand. The Saudi national, S.Dh., said Suma Rini was then taken to the police station and her confessions were attested at Al-Quwai’iah Court in the presence of translators.

On asking Suma Rini about another housemaid named Warnah Madthaying working in the home of S.Dh.’s sister, she indicated that Madthaying was also involved in sorcery. The same method was used to lure Madthaying until she finally admitted casting spells in the sister’s and brother’s home. She showed the Commission staffers 40 different locations where she had hidden these spells and they were removed and undone.
While sorcery is strictly forbidden in the Holy Quran, apparently the purest of the pure and the holiest of the holy do have the esoteric knowledge needed to undo the effects of sorcery. Luckily, they also have the power to put away the evil Indonesian maids forever!

Once again, we must thank Allah for the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, keeping people safe from magic and evil jinns!

Haniyeh to announce a competitor to the PLO

While the PA is the only recognized quasi-government in the territories, the PLO has been the only recognized representative of Palestinian Arabs worldwide. In fact, the PLO was enshrined in that position at Oslo, as the sole representative of the "Palestinian people." The PA is effectively but not officially a subsidiary of the PLO, and the president of the PA has so far also always been the head of the PLO.

While Hamas broke with the PA and created its own de-facto terror government in Gaza, they never broke with the PLO. n fact, the PLO includes some factions who are actively engaging in terror in Gaza, such as the PFLP and DFLP.

Hamas aims to change that.

All the major Palestinian media outlets are reporting that Khaled Meshaal is planning to create its own alternative "Palestinian national authority" as a competitor to the PLO. In a speech he gave last night in Doha, saying that "there can be no reconciliation for the Palestinian people at home and abroad without a national reference," and called for "the Palestinian national authority to maintain the right of return," saying that "by the Palestine Liberation Organization preventing Hamas from entering or working on reconstruction, they no longer constitute a national reference but a deficit and an instrument of division."

This means that Hamas is no longer only challenging the PA's primacy in the territories, but now it is bidding to create a new leadership for Palestinian Arabs in other countries, including the camps in Lebanon where the PLO now has de facto political control.

Harry Potter and the Zionist Brainwashers

I missed this MEMRI clip from last week, but it is a beauty:
Following are excerpts from an episode of an Iranian TV documentary series on Western Cinema featuring the Harry Potter films, which aired on IRINN, the Iranian News Channel on December 15, 2008:

Narrator: The early 1990s brought a revolution in digital technology to the world of cinema, helping the propaganda machinery of the 2oth century "Samaritans" [Jews] adopt useful tools for witchcraft and brainwashing. Now, more than ever, this tool serves to spread the dark and evil essence of Zionism and its goals. The creation of new stories, based on mythical themes relating to witchcraft and devil worship, has always been a tool used by contemporary Zionists, and it is once again being used in recent years, now, more visibly than ever, targeting innocent children and youth – the parents of the future.

[...]

Sai'd Mostaghasi, Iranian film critic: The Harry Potter film portrays all these theories, and especially the theory of witchcraft, which originates in the Kabbala. After all, the Jewish Kabbala is a school of thought which is full of secrets and witchcraft. Its roots are in ancient Egypt. These theories originate from a rabbi or magicians of ancient Egypt, and were passed down to the Knights Templar. You can see their traces in the Harry Potter series, in the fourth or fifth film – "Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix."

[...]

Ali Asghar Sa'dati, Iranian expert on religious cinema: [The Zionists] are trying to convince the viewers that there is no easy way to distance oneself from witchcraft, Satan, and the like, it is better to... They are saying indirectly: "Join us."

[...]

I call this a "cultural Crusader war" – a crusade in which the cultural aspect is currently stronger than the military aspect. Their military expedition is currently in Afghanistan and Iraq, while their cultural expedition consists of these films and DVDs, which are passed around from one to another throughout the world, including in our country and in the Middle East.

[...]

Dr. Mehdi Goljan, Iranian university lecturer: The second issue is the racial supremacy of the Jewish people. The Zionists have used this as a pretext to achieve their Zionist goals.

[...]

The third issue, which is a very important one, is the concept of the End of Days, or the belief that the Jewish people are saviors. As you know, throughout the history of the Jewish people, according to the views of global Zionism, the issue of world domination is a basic principle, of utmost importance.

[...]

Narrator: The Harry Potter film series reached the cinema, following the success of the Zionist propaganda machine, which made this little-known author and her books famous. It can be viewed as a compilation of secrets, and of theories used by the Zionist media. Let us ignore for a moment the efforts by the creators of this series to present witchcraft and wizards in a positive light – an effort that is evident throughout the series, and especially in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets." This has always been the modus operandi of the Zionist teachings regarding the media. Many of these symbols have been adapted to the screen successfully.

[...]

Dr. Mehdi Goljan: [The Zionists] support Harry Potter, because he is the promised messiah. As you can see, he has the same traits and wants to defeat a dark force, which in this film is depicted as Voldemort. In the sixth episode, there is even mention of the War of Armageddon. This sixth episode is now being produced, and will probably be released next year. When Professor Dumbledore dies, Harry Potter reads in his memoirs that he will have to fight a War of Armageddon somewhere against Voldemort, the war witch, according to Zionist Christian beliefs, will take place at the End of Days. You can see that in all these films, they promote their ideology.

[...]

Narrator: Propaganda for purity of blood and race, one of the principles of global Zionism, is openly portrayed and emphasized in the second Harry Potter film. If we add this [film] to the other pieces of the puzzle – the beliefs depicted in the other propaganda and political products of the Ziono-Hollywoodists – the Satan features of this inhumane movement will become more evident.

One of the YouTube commenters said, "Oh for all you know, Family Guy is actually a Hassidic Rabbi living in Brooklyn..."

Another Hamas murder

From Reuters:
A Palestinian man on Thursday accused Islamist Hamas militants in control of the Gaza Strip of torturing and killing his brother for publicly criticizing them.

Osama Atallah, a teacher, was a supporter of the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the sworn enemy of Hamas, whose gunmen drove Fatah militia out of Gaza in 2007 and fought Israel's army in a three-week war this month.

His brother Bassam said masked gunmen in two jeeps arrived at the family home in the city of Gaza on Tuesday. They identified themselves as members of Hamas internal security and they arrested his brother Osama.

Bassam said the Hamas security service told the Atallah family Osama would be released in a matter of hours. But a Hamas government official, who is also a member of the Atallah family, later denied the teacher was in custody.

The family subsequently received a telephone call from hospital that Osama Atallah was in critical condition.

He later died of his wounds.

This is confirmed in the PalArab media.

The 2009 Palarab self-death count is now (estimated) to be at 42.

A 14-year old boy was fond dead in a well in the West Bank, but that seems to have been accidental. But a new murder I was not aware of happened last month of a 13-year old, and I adjusted the self-death count from 2008 accordingly.

Point/Counterpoint on Israel (The Onion):

The Onion explains it all.

Point

The Israeli Conflict Is Far Too Nuanced And Complex To Sum Up In One Op-Ed

By James Berillo

James Berillo

For as long as I can remember, the Israelis and Palestinians have been in conflict. And for as long as I can remember, there have been myriad opinions about who is right and who is wrong. They are often convincing opinions—passionate, personal, and eloquent. But the violence, the bloodshed, the senseless intractable hatred, is far too complicated to be explained by one newspaper column or a single on-air commentary, no matter how well composed. The names and dates in the latest violence are new, but the scars are from wounds that reach back more than a century—countless families across many generations, each with their own deeds and stories, all with their own reason to carry on the conflict.

Opinions can be dangerous. They can provoke a people to take action, when that action might not be just. Opinions can be powerful. They can shape the way a nation sees a problem, when that one perspective might not be enough. Opinions are imperfect. They are based more in politics and preference than in facts, though facts are what matter most. And those facts remain, buried beneath the rubble in the Gaza Strip and Bethlehem. Facts and truths that only the men and women at the heart of the conflict can uncover for themselves—not professional journalists on a tight deadline or amateur bloggers with an ax to grind.

No. The skirmishes fought in the desert are as ancient as the mountains that loom above and as complex as the eddies that swirl in the rivers below. The world must address this struggle with a measured approach that takes all sides into account and acknowledges the decades of conflict.

It would be far too difficult—and far too arrogant—to attempt to sum up the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in one op-ed.


Counterpoint

Not If You Hate Jews!

By Frank Haas

Frank Haas

Interesting, but I really dislike the Jewish people, so this whole "unending conflict with no easy answers" thing doesn't seem very complicated to me at all. In fact, summing up the "delicate and multifaceted situation" in the Middle East couldn't be simpler: I hate the Jews, therefore everything the Jews do is automatically wrong, therefore I hate the Jews.

Bam! Complex and nuanced issue resolved. Chalk another one up for blind, sweeping prejudice.

Now, I know what you're saying. "How can you take decades of cyclical violence, and with no prior understanding of historical context, come to a tidy conclusion on the matter?" Well, kind of like this: I absolutely abhor every member of the Jewish race. Voilà. Done. Moral ambiguity cleared up. And with plenty of time for me to go on with my hateful day!

It's easy as pie, really. For instance, when trying to parse out the conflict in the Middle East, there are many arguments for one to consider. There's the right to a homeland. There's the question of original sovereignty. And there's the fact that all Jews are inherently greedy and that I'd like for their whole godless country to burn in eternal hellfire. See? When you break it down like that, there's no uncertainty at all.

Listen up, United Nations! You can learn a thing or two here.

Don't get me wrong. It's not like I love the Palestinians. After all, they're Muslims, and all Muslims are trained to be suicide bombers at an early age. So, I don't like that. Also, the way they pray frightens me, and their skin color is different from mine, so that doesn't bode well for them, either. However, I can't start hating the Palestinians as much as I hate the Jews, because then how am I supposed to carelessly assign blame to one specific group of people? I'd be right back to square one!

No thanks. I'll stick to vilifying the Jews, if you don't mind. Makes the whole entire thing a lot easier to sort out.

Sure, I suppose I could probe deeper into the issues at hand, but I prefer to make up my mind based on myths I picked up from my father at the age of 12. After all, every moment spent deciding who took what land away from whom, and who fired retaliatory strikes against whom, is time that could be spent spouting off at the mouth with unrestrained vitriol. And isn't that what having an opinion is all about anyway?

Now who wants to go egg a synagogue and run away like little schoolgirls before someone comes to the door?

No Israeli fire hit UNRWA school

Remember all the headlines claiming that Israel shelled a UNRWA school in Jabalya earlier this month? Remember how indignant the UNRWA was that Israel would strike at a school whose coordinates were clearly known to the IDF?

Well, it turns out that the school was not hit at all:
Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed.

Stories of one or more shells landing inside the schoolyard were inaccurate.

While the killing of 43 civilians on the street may itself be grounds for investigation, it falls short of the act of shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers.

The teacher who was in the compound at the time of the shelling says he heard three loud blasts, one after the other, then a lot of screaming.

The teacher, who refused to give his name because he said UNRWA had told the staff not to talk to the news media, was adamant: "Inside [the compound] there were 12 injured, but there were no dead."

"Three of my students were killed," he said. "But they were all outside."

The Globe and Mail article goes on to assert that "no witnesses said they saw any gunmen," but of course the AP quoted witnesses who did see a group shooting mortars from the exact spot that Israel struck back:
Two residents of the area who spoke by telephone said they saw a small group of militants firing mortar rounds from a street near the school, the Associated Press reported. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, the AP said. The residents said the two brothers were known to be low-level Hamas militants. They said a group of militants - one of them said four - were firing mortar shells from near the school.
The truth, which was murky at the time, is becoming clearer. Terrorists shot mortars from the middle of a busy street and Israel responded, apparently killing at least two of them, Imad Abu Askhar and Hassan Abu Askhar, along with the unfortunate Gazans who were being used cynically as human shields. The UNRWA school was not hit at all (at the time I wondered why we saw no pictures from inside the school of the damage - no holes in walls or roofs that one would expect.) The "refugees" who were in the school are all alive.

A tragedy, but not at all what Israel was accused of.

(h/t Brad Brzezinski)

Did the IDF use "killer robots" in Gaza?

A Russian news agency is quoted in Palestine Today as saying that Israel deployed its "VIPeR" robot in Gaza.

The VIPeR is sweet. From Popular Mechanics, June 2007:

The VIPeR can climb stairs (right) and open fire on targets with a submachine gun. At left, the 9-in.-tall drone is fitted with a bomb-disarming water gun.

Very few drones are built to kill. Even the missile-firing Predator UAV was originally designed for aerial reconnaissance, with some units later modified for combat duty. But for the Israeli-manufactured VIPeR (Versatile, Intelligent, Portable Robot), delivering firepower isn’t an afterthought — it’s practically job one.

Designed to act as a partner to dismounted troops in urban environments, the 9-in.-tall, 25-pound VIPeR can accept various sensor packages, including infrared cameras and software that maps buildings as the drone moves through them, as well as an explosives sniffer and a device that shoots jets of water to disarm bombs. But it also can open fire with a mini-Uzi submachine gun or release grenades from a 4-ft.-long robotic arm.

At just 18 in. wide, and equipped with innovative treads that change shape to help boost it over obstacles, the tiny drone can navigate cramped hallways and climb stairs to seek out targets. It can’t open fire autonomously, like South Korea’s Intelligent Surveillance & Security Guard Robot, essentially an armed guard tower that can target potential intruders.

VIPeR is remotely controlled via a harness and helmet-mounted display, with a human operator ultimately deciding whether to pull the trigger. According to its manufacturer, Elbit Systems, VIPeR will be deployed by Israel Defense Forces infantry after field testing.
Here's a video:


The terror-supporting PalToday ludicrously implied that VIPeR is an illegal weapon, and it illustrated the story with this picture.

I have no idea if the IDF deployed VIPeR in Gaza, but it is a great idea for the terrorists to believe that Israel has an army of invincible killer robots.

The enablers

In relationships, an enabler is someone whose actions allow another to continue his or her self-destructive behavior. It is most often seen in families where one member suffers from alcoholism or some other addiction and the other members cover up for that person rather than forcing him to directly suffer the consequences. The maladaptive individual does not have to be an addict, though - an example would be a 26 year old son who refuses to look for a job while his doting mother continues to make his bed and bake his favorite cookies.

The enablers will no doubt say that they do this out of a sense of love, or obligation, or protection.

This is exactly what UNRWA does.

Originally charged with providing temporary aid for Arab refugees from Palestine and then with finding a lasting solution based on resettlement and jobs programs, UNRWA has become the adoptive parents of millions of able-bodied adults who refuse to grow up and take responsibility for their own actions.

UNRWA's perspective has been warped over the years from a well-meaning agency meant to solve a problem to a huge, pathetic, self-perpetuating bureaucracy . This metamorphosis can be seen in its annual reports to the UN and its public statements today.

In a strange way, the UNRWA's acting as an uncritical, enabling parent is natural.

When one gives of oneself unconditionally to another, he or she tends to become emotionally attached to the recipient. Over time this often turns into love.

The UNRWA's goal is not to do what is best for Palestinian Arab refugees and their endless descendants; it is to unconditionally provide for them in perpetuity. Generations of this unselfish giving from an endless supply of international cash tends to change not just the recipient but also the giver, in this case into someone who will defend their helpless charges against all enemies. Now, we have a situation where most UNRWA workers are Palestinian Arabs themselves and the agency has become part of the family.

In Arab culture, the clan looks out for itself against all enemies.

This explains UNRWA's statements and actions.

Last year, in my first correspondence with the UNRWA's spokesman, I asked him to comment on the reports that the UNRWA was forced to close their own offices in response to threats and attacks by Palestinian Arabs. It was reported in the Arabic media but nothing was mentioned in the UNRWA website about it. Here is the response I got:
There had been problems but these have now been avoided for the time being.
Here we have a UN agency being literally attacked by mobs of people, but the reaction is to minimize the importance of the story to such an extent that its expansive PR machine remains silent.

My more recent emails with UNRWA, trying to see if they can find anything negative to say about Hamas' hijacking of aid trucks over the past year - events that even Hamas has acknowledged - results in the same stonewalling and avoidance.

One does not publicly embarrass one's family. The UNRWA might not be thrilled with Hamas actions, but even when they interfere with UNRWA activities - such as by firing rockets from next to or inside UNRWA facilities - they are excused, downplayed and redirected to hatred of the enemy. UNRWA might not be directly supporting Hamas terror, but it is enabling terror.

Just like enablers in families, the UNRWA cannot conceive that they are doing anything wrong.
They are convinced that they altrusitic, they are loving, they are helping defend their people against the world that cannot possibly understand what things are like on the inside.

The only way to break this cycle of enablement is to force the maladaptive member of the family to face up to the consequences of his actions. However, this is not a part of the UNRWA's charter. On the contrary, if the UNRWA would force Palestinian Arabs to act like adults who can solve their own problems, then they would be violating their own rules of providing perpetual aid.

Their enablement is enshrined for perpetuity.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

One more UNRWA email chain (updated)

After the UNRWA spokesman sent me his latest denial that Hamas diverts or steals aid, I sent him this:

Thanks, but my original question and all followups were asking not only about UNRWA aid but also about aid meant for other NGOs, such as Red Crescent. In at least one case UNRWA was the alleged recipient of the diverted aid, as reported in the Arabic News last February:

Hamas says it seized Jordan aid to keep it safe
Palestine-Jordan, Politics, 2/12/2008

Hamas government in Gaza acknowledged on Saturday that they had seized 16 trucks of aid supplies from Jordan to keep it safe from Palestine Authority.

Hamas government's Social Affairs Minister Ziad Zaza said that the government will hand it over to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees.

He said that Hamas wanted to prevent the aid supplies from falling into the hands of the Palestinian Red Crescent, which operates under the Palestine Authority led by Mahmud Abbas.

"This sort of aid never reached the Palestinian people in the past but was instead monopolized by a single party," al-Zaza said.

Zaza said that Hamas had secured Jordanian agreement to hand over the supplies to UNRWA.

Israel imposed a complete lockdown on the Gaza Strip on January 17 blocking even fuel, foods and medicines.

But in a population of 1.5 million that is largely dependent on foreign aid without any independent income, many families remain desperately short of basic goods.

Jordan said on Saturday the Islamist Palestinian group Hamas has confiscated a convoy of humanitarian aid sent to people living under an Israeli blockade in the Gaza Strip.

Minister of State for Information Affairs Nasser Joudeh said Hamas government on Thursday seized 16 trucks carrying emergency supplies into Gaza.

"We are surprised it should be confiscated and distributed in a manner based on political considerations...this only penalizes those who really deserve this aid," Joudeh said.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
So while your statement makes clear that you deny the claims that aid trucks meant for UNRWA were diverted by Hamas, but I must ask you again: are you aware of any incidents where Hamas diverted, interfered with or stole aid meant for other NGOs, including the example cited here where Hamas admitted diverting aid to your agency?

In addition, a UN press release yesterday says that "The Under-Secretary-General also emphasized that Hamas must refrain from any interference with the movement or distribution of humanitarian goods" which indicates that at least John Holmes is aware of such incidents in the past. Do you know what he might be referring to?

Thanks so much,

The answer was terse:
I speak only for unrwa. C
Even though the example I cited had the aid going to UNRWA.

So I just emailed one more time:
I understand; can you confirm the February incident cited where the Jordanian aid was diverted to UNRWA? Did UNRWA accept a shipment that was meant for another NGO, or is Hamas not telling the truth when they said they would send it to UNRWA?

Thanks
The reply:
Cannot confirm


I may sum up what I've learned soon...

My UNRWA correspondence adventures can be seen here.

Nothing's changed

A fantastic find from Simply Jews, apparently the work of a Swiss cartoonist in 1956.





A tacit UN admission of Hamas stealing aid? (updated)

While UNRWA adamantly denies that Hamas is stealing aid in Gaza, contrary to reports from Israeli, PA and Jordanian officials, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes has just said something intriguing.

In a report to the UN on the situation in Gaza, where he criticizes both Israel and Hamas,
The Under-Secretary-General also emphasized that Hamas must refrain from any interference with the movement or distribution of humanitarian goods.
Why would this UN official ask them to refrain if they hadn't done anything?

It appears that those on the ground in Gaza know the rules: you don't directly criticize Hamas for doing things it does not admit to doing on its own. Everyone denying that Hamas steals aid happen to be in Gaza under effective Hamas rule; everyone who charges Hamas with these crimes are safely out of its reach.

UPDATE: I just got the official UNRWA denial via email:
There have been reports in the media and elsewhere that UNRWA aid for Gaza is being stolen, confiscated or diverted. These reports are entirely baseless. UNRWA has a system of closely monitoring our aid pipeline; from the port of Ashdod in Israel, our warehouses in the West Bank and the aid arriving in Gaza from Egypt and Jordan, through the crossings into the Gaza Strip, to our storage facilities in Gaza itself and finally to our distribution centres where recipients with authorized cards receive our assistance. At every stage our aid is checked by UNRWA officials. From this monitoring and our constant vigilance, we can say with certainty that no UNRWA aid in Gaza has been stolen, confiscated or diverted. If such eventualities were to occur, UNRWA would be aware and immediately take the issue up with any relevant parties and ensure redress.

Central to our obligation to assist and protect Palestine refugees is the duty to ensure that the relief provided by the international community reaches its intended recipients, namely, Palestinian civilians rendered vulnerable by the closure of Gaza’s borders and by the elusiveness since 1948 of a just and lasting solution to their plight.
I asked some very specific followup questions, which will be posted here if/when I get a response.

Hamas Baby Armor!

From The People's Cube, h/t Israellycool:

PalArab news roundup 1-28-09

The rumors that have popped up in the past day that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad might have some Jewish ancestors - probably cooked up by his political opponents - is resonating in the Fatah-linked Palestine Press Agency. Its readers are not surprised, as they consider all Shiites to be really Jewish.

In PalArab self-death news, a Qalqiya resident was found shot to death in Hebron. A Gaza man was tortured to death by Hamas. And I had not yet counted yesterday's reports that a former B'Tselem worker was also killed by Hamas earlier this month. My latest gross count based on newspaper articles came before that death, so I don't think it is double-counting. So the 2008 PalArab self-death count is now at 41.

The PA's Minister of Social Affairs now counts 63 trucks of aid hijacked by Hamas on the 19th and 20th of this month, something that UNRWA calls "utter nonsense." Which story makes more sense?

Hamas had promised to act like Hezbollah and pay families thousands of dollars in compansation for lost relatives or damaged homes. So far, the families that Hamas paid have received only a fraction of the promised amounts.

Meanwhile, the PA pays - and protects - terrorists

Hamas is being portrayed in the media as representing the "extremists" among Palestinian Arabs and Mahmoud Abbas' PA is consistently viewed as being "moderate." The Gaza operation has seemingly shown that the two sides are polar opposites, and has made many consider that it is now more important than ever to prop up the PA as Israel's only viable peace partner.

A little research shows that the idea of the PA and Fatah being anti-terrorism is a gross error.

It is true that the PA stayed largely on the sidelines during the war, and even seemed to passively support Israel against Hamas. It is equally true that there is no love lost between Hamas and Fatah over Hamas' violent, bloody coup in Gaza in 2007.

However, this antipathy must not be considered proof that the PA leaders are against terrorism.

The JCPA just released an important study about the Western hopes of the PA retaking Gaza and the PA's shortcomings. A couple of salient facts emerge:
In 2009, thousands of "unemployed" Fatah militiamen, such as members of the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, still hold weapons that they conceal in their homes. In their current dormant status, they also continue to receive monthly salaries from the Palestinian Authority on the instructions of Abbas and Fayyad,15 who are eager to avoid conflict with these groups and to protect themselves from the death threats made by the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas against them.16
Remarkable and ignored in Western diplomatic circles is that Fayyad has continued to pay the monthly salaries of between 6,000 and 12,000 Hamas Executive Force operatives in Gaza, in line with the 2007 Mecca national unity agreement that brought Hamas under the umbrella of the Palestinian Authority for budgetary purposes.20

It is widely believed in Western diplomatic circles that the PA in Ramallah was only paying the salaries of civil service employees in Gaza to encourage them to stay at home to avoid working with Hamas, especially after Hamas' expulsion of Fatah in June 2007. This is incorrect. The PA, and indirectly the U.S., and international donor countries have continued to pay monthly salaries to Hamas security operatives (Read: terrorists) and their commanders from the PA's $120 million monthly budget allocation to the Gaza Strip.21 The height of irony in this regard may have been seen during the Gaza war when Hamas fighters received their salaries from the PA at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital which was immune from IDF fire.22

Fatah's armed wing, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, announced on January 19, 2009, that its men in Gaza fought against Israel alongside Hamas, together with Islamic Jihad's Al-Quds Battalions. The Al Aksa Brigades said they fired 102 rockets and 35 mortars, and detonated explosive devices that wounded a number of IDF soldiers.72
Another recent article reveals an even more egregious display of support for terrorists by the PA:
Col. Radi Assidah, the Palestinian Authority's security commander in the Jenin area, said over the weekend that his force is protecting and providing shelter to Islamic Jihad fugitives.

A number of Islamic Jihad activists wanted by Israel recently handed themselves over to the PA security forces in the city out of fear that they would be killed or arrested by Israel, Assidah said.

Assidah said the Islamic Jihad men arrived about five months ago at the headquarters of the PA security forces in Jenin to seek sanctuary until their cases with Israel were resolved.

"They sought refuge with us," he said. "Since then we have been hosting them in our headquarters. They are not prisoners and they are entitled to leave whenever they want."

Assidah also revealed that the PA government of Salaam Fayad was paying the wanted Islamic Jihad men monthly salaries.
The PA is not only indirectly financially supporting terrorism by sending most of its budget to Gaza and freeing Hamas to spend money on weapons, it is also directly paying terrorists from Hamas, Al Aqsa Brigades and Islamic Jihad! And it is actively protecting wanted Islamic Jihad terrorists from jail!

To call this outrageous would be an understatement, yet the West - which is bankrolling the PA to the tune of some $2 billion a year - remains supportive of these corrupt, terror-supporting so-called "moderates."

Ironically, the Gaza operation makes the terrorist-leaning PA seem even more of a strategic partner for "peace," and the EU, US and current Israeli government is encouraging such thinking.

As Western money goes directly to people sworn to murdering Israelis.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Saudi Vice, episode 24: Wild college women



Al Yamamah College, a Saudi Arabian institution of advanced learning, hosted a British University Fair last Sunday. At this fair, representatives of 25 British universities could interact with potential students and tell them all about their programs, and the students could ask questions.

The organizers of the fair might have had good educations, but they didn't think about the moral implications of such a sinful gathering:

* Some of the British representatives were - women!
* Some of the potential Saudi students were - women!

Our heroes at the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice wasted no time to stop this outrage. They barged into the fair, posing as government representatives, and immediately demanded that any Saudi women attendees leave the fair immediately.

They then went to the British whores, I mean, university representatives, and told them to stop all their interactions with the remaining male students.

The British fair organizers caved to the clear moral imperatives that the Muttawa politely demanded of them and told their women to leave the fair.

Thanks to our heroes, Saudi women cannot go abroad to study, where they would inevitably become corrupted by the evil infidels, and virtuous Saudi men cannot be seduced by the loose British women who dare enter Saudi Arabia under the pretense of marketing their universities, those dens of iniquity.

And Saudi Arabia is safe and moral again!

Previous episodes can be seen here.

All you need to know about UNRWA

A former UNRWA legal advisor, James Lindsay, just wrote a report detailing the problems with UNRWA with specific recommendations. His history and analysis of the organization look to be spot on. While he finds few specific examples of UNRWA employees engaging in terrorism, he details the political tilt that UNRWA has been showing towards Hamas based on their statements. For example:
In 2008, UNRWA issued comparably fewer calls for engaging Hamas. Instead, it has focused on criticizing the Israeli blockade of Gaza (which targets all items except humanitarian aid).64 In this regard, the agency echoes the Hamas view of the conflict with Israel. For example, when UNRWA ran out of fuel supplies in late April–early May 2008, it implied that its shortage was caused by the Israelis (who were blocking deliveries to Hamas but not to UNRWA) rather than by Hamas’s actions (which included allowing demonstrators to prevent delivery of fuel to UNRWA as well as intimidation of the Petrol Station Owners Association, which subsequently refused to distribute fuel delivered to Gaza by Israel).65 This propensity to echo Hamas views extends to other issues as well. As mentioned earlier, Commissioner-General AbuZayd has referred to Qassam rockets being fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza as a response to Israeli military incursions.66 Regarding the resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem, UNRWA’s sympathies are not with resettlement or “repatriation” to a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, but with “repatriation” to Israel.67 And in May 2008, during an interview with Iranian Press TV, Commissioner-General AbuZayd reportedly proclaimed that Hamas was “free from corruption” and “more popular than ever.”68 Even if true in the sense she meant—by “corruption,” she was presumably referring to theft for personal gain—her claim demonstrated something of a disconnect from earlier reports that Hamas was stealing fuel and items intended as humanitarian assistance.69
Lindsay is harshly critical of UNRWA's prolonging of the "refugee" problem and has specific suggestions to reduce it, as was the original purpose of UNRWA.

The entire report is available for download.

Melanie Phillips goes into much more detail on more recent criticism of UNRWA, including UNRWA denials that Hamas steals aid (a fact touched upon in Lindsay's paper as well, from early 2008.) Phillips is much more negative than Lindsay; Lindsay strikes me as a bit more fair in his criticism. Even so, UNRWA was quite upset at his paper, as he writes in his epilogue - yet they refused to detail any supposed mistakes when he sent it to them last year. (YNet also seems to exaggerate Lindsay's claims.)

It is notable that AP reported today on a UNRWA teacher specifically advocating violence and terrorism to his eight year old students:
In one classroom Saturday, when UNRWA schools reopened, a Palestinian teacher was filmed asking children about their trauma during the war. The unidentified teacher then told the children that Palestinians have to "wage war against them (Israelis) until they leave their land," and asked her students, aged about 8, how they should react.

Two children in the class suggested hurling stones or rockets back at Israel. "Okay," the teacher said, apparently summing up her class' position. "We throw rockets at them, we throw stones at them," she said.

UNRWA denies stories

I just asked Chris Gunness, UNRWA spokesman, two questions:
I would like to follow up on my earlier inquiry about the Jordanian aid truck meant for UNRWA that had been reportedly been hijacked by Hamas. Did you ever confirm that this happened, or that any aid truck was hijacked by Hamas?

Also, I just found a story from Palestine Press Agency from last April that quoted sources as saying that residents of a camp in Khan Younis were complaining about Hamas digging a weapons bunker underneath a UNRWA school there. (http://www.palpress.ps/arabic/index.php?maa=ReadStory&ChannelID=29137 ) Could you comment on whether this was ever investigated and, if so, what was discovered?
He answered:
The stolen aid story is utter nonsense. The bunker thing I have only heard once before and it was wrong.

Completely useless trivia question

If you could have your choice of 100 pounds of dimes, quarters, half-dollars or old Eisenhower dollar coins, which one should you choose?

And how much would they be worth?



-----------------
Joem figured out the answer. From his comment:
Assuming face value, in purely mathematical terms, they would be equivalent, based on:

100 lbs = 45359.237 grams

dime = 2.268 g = 199996.6358 coins = $1,999.66
quarter = 5.670 g = 79998.65432 coins = $1,999.66
half dollar = 11.340 g = 39999.32716 coins = $1,999.66
Eisenhower dollar = 22.68 g = 19999.66358 coins = $1,999.66

But, since you can't have part of a coin, you'd have to round off the decimal of the coins, so you would be best off with dimes, since you would have $1,999.60. With the quarters or half-dollars you would have $1,999.50, and the dollars would leave you with just $1,999.00.
The question that popped in my mind that prompted this was if I had an arbitrarily sized piggy bank, what coin would be best to fill it with? Once I started figuring it out I was surprised to see that the quarter, dime and half-dollar had the same weight/value ratio. The current dollars, of course, are worth more per gram, but on a hunch I looked up the Eisenhower dollar and sure enough it was the exact same ratio as the dime/quarter/half-dollar.

In case you care, 100 lbs of pennies is $181.43, of nickels it is $453.55 and of current dollar coins it is $5,599.

"Martyr posters" suggest a high terrorist death toll

From AP:
Some were killed when tank shells hit their homes. Others died when bombs erased their offices. Still others _ like Islamic Jihad fighter Mohammed Bedawi _ met their end battling Israeli troops.

"The drone hit him," said his cousin, Abed Bedawi, 21, referring to the unmanned surveillance planes often seen in Gaza's skies. "He was laying a bomb for a tank when the drone fired a missile at him."

Now they are all memories, their faces rolling off the presses at the Nibras print shop.

The shop prints customized, full-color posters and banners commemorating the dead _ a Palestinian tradition for people killed by Israel. In the wake of Israel's 22-day Gaza offensive _ which killed nearly 1,300 Palestinians _ the shop is one of Gaza's few businesses experiencing a postwar boom.

...While not comprehensive, the posters enter a new element into the debate over how many militants were killed by Israel. The Israel military says it killed 700, while Hamas and other militant groups say they lost 158. In its final report on the death toll, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said 223 of the 1,285 killed in the war were fighters.

Although the shop hasn't kept records, al-Hor guesses he has done posters for 350 people since the war's end, about 250 of them militants, suggesting the militant groups lost more fighters than they acknowledge. Other say the groups often claim the dead as members of their movements even when they were not.
Fatah was known for creative accounting of its billions of dollars; Hamas is known for its creative accounting of dead terrorists.

April 2008: Hamas dug weapons tunnels under UNRWA school

Someone doing a search on this site found a story that I had completely forgotten about. Here's the autotranslation from Palestine Press Agency, April 3, 2008:
Hamas militants digging tunnels under the Gaza Strip camps and store weapons and missiles under the UNRWA school in Khan Younis refugee camp

A reliable source told Palestine Press Agency that Hamas was digging tunnels beneath the densely populated Western camp, specifically in the area of the camp Alqtatop in the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

The source said that "Hamas militants are digging tunnels leading to the school in the camp in the works for the storage of heavy weapons" and missiles Aldo_ka "in the tunnels beneath the school students."

The source added that "Hamas militias, while digging one of the tunnels in the area, broke one of the main water pipes in the camp, which led to the leak of water to the nearby population to the chagrin of the residents."
So the UNRWA could be technically accurate when it says that no Hamas militants are allowed in its schools. In, no; under, perhaps.

UPDATE: The UNRWA denies this story.