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Hamas Steps Up Bombings, Truce Plans in Jeopardy

Update: Reuters reports a ceasefire has been agreed to.

Yesterday a truce between Israel and Hamas seemed very close. Hillary Clinton traveled from Israel to Egypt for further truce talks. Today, a truce seems less likely. As to what's changed?

Hamas has stepped up its rocket launches into Israel, firing 80 missles into southern Israel in the past 24 hours. 20 were intercepted, in Ashkelon, Beersheba, Be'er Tuviya, Hof Ashkelon and Ashdod.

A package bomb was placed on a bus in Tel Aviv today (no deaths, several injured, seems to be the work of amateur terrorists). On al Aqsa (Hamas) TV: "G-d willing, we will soon see black body bags."

In Gaza yesterday, a Hamas gunman executed 6 people believed to be Israeli collaborators. The bodies were then tied to a motorcyle and dragged through the streets. Photos here, video here. [More...]

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Israel and Hamas: Bombings Intensify

Israel has called up 75,000 reservists and struck Hamas Government buildings. Hamas has claimed credit for firing rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

The Israeli military said some 150 rockets fired from Gaza had hit Israel since Friday and at least 83 more were intercepted by its Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Gaza is a small place with a lot of people, and there have been at least 38 civilian casualties, some of them children. Israel says it is acting in self-defense, and the rockets Hamas is firing at them come from Gaza.

This morning, Hamas fired 20 rockets at Israel. Israel says Operation Pilar Defense will continue. [more...]

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Israel Declares Ceasefire in Gaza

Israel has declared a ceasefire in Gaza.

Troops would remain in Gaza for the time being and if Hamas held fire, the military would "consider pulling out of Gaza at a time that befits us". If militant rocket fire into Israel continued, Israel would respond with force, the Israeli leader added.

Hamas isn't pleased:

Israel must withdraw completely, lift its economic blockade of Gaza and open border crossings, the spokesman said.

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Obama's Options for the Israel-Gaza Conflict

President Elect Barack Obama's support for Israel grew during the course of the campaign. This weekend he received briefings from Bush's Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice. In three weeks, he will be President and shortly thereafter, Hillary Clinton will be Secretary of State.

David Axlerod, on Face the Nation today, was asked what Obama's response to the crisis would be. He waffled a bit, noting that it would inappropriate for Obama to take a strong position while Bush was still President, but repeated what Obama had said when visiting Israel this summer:

“If somebody was sending rockets into my house, where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that,” he told reporters in Sderot, a small city on the edge of Gaza that has been hit repeatedly by rocket fire. “And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.”

So, what will Obama do once he is President? The New York Times lays out two options: [More...]

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Israel Expected to Continue Strikes Against Hamas

From what I gather in the news about Israel's air strikes against Hamas in the Gaza Strip:

  • There was a cease fire but it ended earlier this month.
  • Most of the 225 killed were militant Hamas policemen, since a principal target was Hamas police headquarters, although hundreds were injured and there were some civilians and children who died. Most of the strikes were on security compounds and militant bases.
  • Israel had been planning the attacks for some time due to Hamas's refusal to stop sending rockets into Israel
  • The Bush Administration blames Hamas. Condoleeza Rice blames Hamas because it kept sending rockets into Israel
    "We strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there. The ceasefire must be restored immediately and fully respected."
  • This can't be good news for Obama, who will take office with Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan already on the front burners. And neither he, nor any American president, may have much control over what goes on between Israel and Hamas.

Daniel Levy at Huffpo adds his perspective. Your Thoughts?

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Muslim Charity Claims FBI Fabricated Evidence

The L.A. Times reports:

When the Bush administration shut down the nation's largest Muslim charity five years ago, officials of the Dallas-based foundation denied allegations it was linked to terrorists and insisted that a number of accusations were fabricated by the government. Now, attorneys for the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development say the government's own documents provide evidence of that claim.

In recent court filings, defense lawyers disclosed striking discrepancies between an official summary and the verbatim transcripts of an FBI-wiretapped conversation in 1996 involving Holy Land officials.

The FBI summaries of the wiretapped calls contain anti-semitic comments not found in the transcripts.

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