Gaza Update: Day 5

Israel has rejected a French proposal to a temporary and immediate 48-hour ceasefire to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza. Criticism of Arab governments' inaction is on the rise, while Turkey has taken the lead in stopping the bombardment of the Gaza Strip and Palestinians rights groups in Gaza are pleading for the UN to take concrete action.
A Palestinian man walks past a destroyed car after an Israeli air strike in Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip December 30, 2008. © Suhaib Salem/Reuters

BEIRUT, December 31, 2008 (MENASSAT) — Israel has rejected a French proposal to a temporary and immediate 48-hour ceasefire to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

After five days of consecutive bombardment of the Gaza Strip, Israeli warplanes and helicopter gunships have dropped hundreds of bombs and missiles, killing nearly 400 people and injuring at least 1,600.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, said a truce was unrealistic at this time because there is "no mechanism to enforce the cessation of shooting and terror from Hamas."

"That proposal contained no guarantees of any kind that Hamas will stop the rockets and smuggling. There is a dialogue with these parties with the aim to reach a serious deal for a permanent ceasefire under certain conditions," Palmor said.

Four Israel citizens have been killed in rocket and mortar attacks since the assault began on Saturday.

Turkey steps up, despite a recent multi-billion dollar deal with Israel  

As Arab governments are being criticized for not responding to the massive Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister, has surprisingly stepped up and will begin a tour of Arab nations on Wednesday to "restore peace."

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal walks in front of flags of Arab countries as he chairs an Arab foreign ministers emergency meeting in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2008.  © AP Photo/Amr Nabil

Arab League foreign ministers are holding an emergency meeting in Cairo to find a common stand on Gaza.

Turkey, which has close relations with Israel and recently signed an arms cooperation deal, has taken a strong stance against Israel's assault on Gaza and has suspended its role as mediator of indirect talks between Israel and Syria.

Despite calls by demonstrators on Monday for decision makers to cancel military cooperation with Israel, the Turkish Daily Zaman reported that Turkey is not expected to retaliate by suspending or canceling billions of dollars worth of arms procurement projects, Turkish and Western military analysts have stated

Mr Erdogan will visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia , Jordan  and Syria for consultations.

Palestinian rights groups say UN failed

Palestinian human rights groups have issued a call for intervention on December 30 urging member States of the UN Human Rights Council to "put an end to the war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as a result of the Israeli occupying forces' ongoing attacks on the Gaza Strip."

Despite concerns about the situation in Gaza and recommendations to Israel to improve the situation, the infrastructure in Gaza is not in any condition to respond to the humanitarian crisis, the statement read.

"You have further been notified by Special Rapporteur Richard Falk of Israel's failure to cooperate with his mandate and his call on 'all Member States, as well as officials and every relevant organ of the United Nations system, to move on an emergency basis not only to condemn Israel's serious violations, but to develop new approaches to providing real protection for the Palestinian people.'"

The Palestinian human rights community also said the UN Security Council has failed in taking concrete action and is asking the UN Human Rights Council to issue a resolution requesting the General Assembly to convene under Resolution 337, "uniting for peace" in an attempt to take "collective measures against the Israeli government."


ANALYSIS: A broader look at the recent Gaza attacks
Posted on 31/12/2008 - 13:03
With the end of the Israeli military offensive on Gaza nowhere in sight, MENASSAT looks at what is truly at stake with this military offensive. Is this the end of Arab resistance to military aggression or just the end of Hamas? GAZA RESISTANCE OR NOT 

Fear and terror spread in Gaza
Posted on 30/12/2008 - 18:11
After four days of air strikes, Palestinians are describing the Israeli assault on Gaza as the worst since 1967. Over 370 people have been killed since Saturday and more than 800 injured. Continuing with MENASSAT's on-the-ground coverage of events in Gaza, correspondent Ola Madhoun takes a tour through Gaza's empty streets to talk to locals. ministries.jpg 

Day 4: MENASSAT surveys Gaza media coverage
Posted on 30/12/2008 - 21:00
MENASSAT features a sampling of today's news coverage - a mixture of Op-Eds, blogrolls, and underreported items picked by the MENASSAT editorial team to highlight what is happening on day four of the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip. london gaza protest kid 

Gaza bodycount redux: Palestinians 370 – Israelis 4
Posted on 30/12/2008 - 16:15
Israel has rejected international attempts at a truce, as Israeli planes continued a fourth day of air strikes against the Gaza Strip. At least 370 people have been killed since the assault began on Saturday. Israeli officials said the military blitz against Hamas targets is just the "first of several stages" of military action. MENASSAT has this news roundup. gaza burial.jpg 

'Until the necessary change is achieved...'
Posted on 29/12/2008 - 20:27
Photojournalist Eman Mohammed was lightly wounded during Saturday's Israeli air strikes, but this didn't stop her from continuing to document what was happening to her community. This is her story. em (20).jpg 

Natalie Abu Sha'ra: 'It makes sense for me to be in Gaza'
Posted on 29/12/2008 - 11:47
Just a week before Israel's latest assault against Gaza, a humanitarian aid ship was allowed through the Israeli blockade of the Strip. On board was Natalie Abu Sha'ra, a 21-year-old Christian from South Lebanon who defied her own country's travel ban to come to the aid of people in Gaza. She told her story to MENASSAT's Olfat Haddad.

Gaza's blackest day
Posted on 28/12/2008 - 19:30
MENASSAT's Gaza correspondent recounts the horrors of the single bloodiest day in Gaza history since the occupation began in 1967. gaza.jpg 

Gaza bodycount: Palestinians 271 – Israelis 1
Posted on 28/12/2008 - 14:45
Israeli jets have launched a second day of air strikes against the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Despite international condemnation over what is being called a disproportional response, Israel is not excluding a ground offensive. According to Palestinian officials, 271 Palestinians have been killed so far for only one victim in Israel. 358x283.jpg