Home > Great Britain > BICOM BRIEFING: GAZA SITUATION UPDATE 9 JANUARY 2009

BICOM BRIEFING: GAZA SITUATION UPDATE 9 JANUARY 2009


Latest News from BICOM published with thanks.

Source: http://www.bicom.org.uk

Israel is pleased by progress in the shuttle diplomacy with Egypt. Israeli officials have said there are many positive elements being discussed, which need to be looked at in more depth.

Hamas has rejected UN Security Council Resolution 1860. Due to Hamas’s rejection and continued rocket fire, Israel feels it is not relevant to accept or reject the resolution. Rocket fire from Gaza this morning shows that Hamas has no intention of ending its attacks.

With ceasefire negotiations ongoing, the IDF is presently halting advancing its operation and is awaiting a decision by the security cabinet. Israel is avidly pursuing diplomacy with Egypt. Israel’s main concern is the prevention of smuggling, which is the key to enabling a long-term and sustainable ceasefire.

Key statements

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri on UN Security Council Resolution 1860 (9/1): “This resolution doesn’t mean that the war is over. We call on the Palestinian fighters to mobilise and be ready to face the offensive, and we urge the Arab masses to carry on with their angry protests.”

Foreign Secretary David Miliband at UN Security Council meeting (1/8): “Mr President I said on Tuesday that our responsibility was to chart a course back to Resolution 1850, today I believe we can do so with a route map set out in this resolution. Not as a substitute for the decisions that need to be made on the ground but as a complement to them. Our job is to turn the words of this resolution into reality and that is a task to which the United Kingdom will remain wholly committed. To that extent our work is not finished it must carry on with renewed vigour.”

Colonel Richard Kemp on BBC News 24 (1/9): “I think Israel has very little choice but to carry on with its military operations until it reaches conclusion that it needs, which is to stop Hamas from firing rockets at its people in its territory…Israel doesn’t have any choice but to defend its own people.”

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on diplomatic developments and UN Security Council Resolution 1860 (1/9): “The State of Israel has never agreed that any outside body would determine its right to defend the security of its citizens. The IDF will continue operations in order to defend Israeli citizens and will carry out the missions with which it has been assigned in the operation. This morning’s rocket fire against residents of the south only proves that the UN Security Council Resolution 1860 is not practical and will not be honoured in actual fact by the Palestinian murder organisations.”

Senior Israeli security source (1/9): “The defence minister visited the [IDF] centre for ground operations training in Tzeelim, met with reserve soldiers who had just completed their battalion exercises and it is clear to us that a decision regarding the expansion of ground operations must be made within the next 24 hours.”

Situation on the ground

With ceasefire negotiations ongoing, the IDF is presently halting advancing its operation and is awaiting a decision by the security cabinet. Israel is avidly pursuing diplomacy with Egypt. Israel’s main concern is the prevention of smuggling, which is the key to enabling a long-term and sustainable ceasefire.

Ahead of the security cabinet meeting today, the smaller ‘kitchen cabinet’ is expected to meet. Although the situation is fluid, it is believed that Defence Minister Barak is arguing that Israel should not withdraw from the Gaza Strip unilaterally without some kind of agreement. However, Foreign Minister Livni is said to believe that Israel has provided for future deterrence and that the fighting can now be stopped. PM Olmert is believed to feel that the mission’s goals must be reached; the first among these is to bring the rocket fire on Israel to a halt.

Overnight, 50 terror infrastructure sites were targeting, including five sites used to launch rockets (one of which was adjacent to a mosque), a weaponry storehouse, five weaponry production sites, and Hamas command buildings and outposts. The Israeli Navy operated near Deir El Balah in the Central Gaza Strip, targeting Hamas rocket launching sites in order to thwart attempts to fire rockets at Israeli communities.

Diplomatic developments

Israel is pleased by progress in the shuttle diplomacy with Egypt. Israeli officials have said there are many positive elements being discussed, which need to be looked at in more depth. Reporting on his meeting in Cairo, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, director of the Political-Security Staff in the Israeli Defence Ministry, said that Egypt was willing to “upgrade its mechanism for supervising and preventing weapons from entering the Gaza Strip through Philadelphi Road.” However, they flatly rule out any international observer force on their territory to help. He also said that Hamas was not willing, as of now, to comply with the Egyptians’ proposal for a ceasefire without a promise that all the crossings would be opened immediately.

Other countries have also expressed their willingness to help prevent smuggling into Gaza. The US has promised Egypt many resources and professional accompaniment to help them seal the Philadelphi Route using the latest electronic means to locate tunnels, including robots. The US is also working for an international naval force that would stop ships from bringing weapons even before reaching Sinai and going from there to Gaza. A number of countries said they were willing to be part of such a force, including France and Germany.

UN Security Council Resolution 1860 was passed by 14 votes, with the US abstaining. Hamas has rejected UN Security Council Resolution 1860. Due to Hamas’s rejection and continued rocket fire, Israel feels it is not relevant to accept or reject the resolution. Rocket fire from Gaza this morning shows that Hamas has no intention of ending its attacks.

The main points of the resolution are as follows:

An “immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire leading to the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”
“Welcomes the initiatives aimed at creating and opening humanitarian corridors and other mechanisms for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid.”
“Calls on member states to support international efforts to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza, including through urgently needed additional contributions to UNRWA and through the Ad-hoc Liaison Committee.”
“Condemns all acts of violence and terror directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism.”
“Calls upon member states to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain a durable ceasefire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition and to ensure the sustained reopening of the crossing points on the basis of the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and in this regard, welcomes the Egyptian initiative, and other regional and international efforts that are underway.”
“Encourages tangible steps towards intra-Palestinian reconciliation, including in support of mediation efforts of Egypt and the League of Arab States as expressed in the November 25, 2008, statement, and consistent with Security Council Resolution 1850 and other relevant resolutions.”
“Calls for the renewed and urgent efforts by the parties and the international community to achieve a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders, as envisaged in Security Council 1850, and recalls the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative.”

Tally of missiles, rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza

Since 2001, total number of identified rocket and mortar shell hits: 8,691.
Since Israel’s unilateral disengagement from Gaza in August 2005:6,000.
Since 4 November 2008:896.
Since the ceasefire ended on 19 December 2008: 831.
Since Operation Cast Lead began on 27 December 2008:676.

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