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The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English, 08-12-29

The Hellenic Radio (ERA): News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Hellenic Radio (ERA) <>


  • [01] M. East in Flames

  • [01] M. East in Flames

    Violence has been escalating in the Middle East as Israel continues with its air raids against the Gaza Strip for the second day. This has been described the bloodiest day in the last 60 years in the region as more than 230 Palestinians were killed and 750 wounded. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stressed that the operation would continue. At the same time, there is widespread concern on the eventuality of an extensive land operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a development described possible by Defence Minister Ehud Barrack. From its side, Hamas retaliated by launching missiles, while exiled leader Khaled Meshaal called on the Palestinians on a third Intifada. The UN Security Council appealed today for the immediate termination of violence, calling the parties involved to think of the serious humanitarian and financial needs in Gaza.

    Israel went on with its raids for the second day against the Gaza Strip, escalating more its attack against Hamas. At the same time, it has been deploying additional troops and tanks along its border with the Gaza Strip.

    Defence Minsiter Ehud Barrack did not rule out extensive ground operations, rejecting appeals made by the UN and the EU for a truce, stressing that his country cannot accept ceasefire with Hamas.

    He compared Hamas with Al Qaeda, adding that just as you cannot have ceasefire with Al Qaeda, Israel cannot have ceasefire with Hamas.

    Israeli aircrafts have carried out more than 100 hits, while the Palestinians launched about 70 missiles against Israel killing an Israeli.

    Gaza appears to be devastated after Israel bombed more than 40 Hamas installations, while eyewitnesses report that many men in uniform had been killed.

    Two people were killed when the Israeli Air Force hit a mosque, Hamas reported. Israel verified the piece information, adding that the mosque was used for terror activities. "Palestine has never experienced such a barbaric massacre", stated Hamas leader Ismail Haniyia, while Hamas, which has under its control the coastal area since June 2007, swore to take revenge with suicide attacks in Israel's cafes and streets.

    Haniyia swore that Gaza would never be surrendered to Israel, no matter what forces are used on its territory.

    Meanwhile, Hamas exiled leader Khaled Meshal called on the Palestinians today to launch a new intifada against Israel, announcing more suicide attacks in an interview with Qatar's TV network Al Jazeera.

    At the same time, aid organizations have warned that Israel's military operation could accelerate the human crisis outbreak in the poor region, where 1.5 million Palestinians live, half of which depend on annonary aid.

    Moreover, hospitals in Gaza have reported that their reserves in medicine, which had dropped dramatically due to Israel's blockade, are coming to an end.Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas stated today that Hamas could have escaped the massacre in Gaza.

    "We asked them not to violate the truce; thus, we could have avoided what has happened", said Abbas in Cairo.

    The Israeli government, from its side, argued that the operation constitutes an answer to the unbearable daily attacks with missiles and mortars by Palestinian fighters from the Gaza Strip. These attacks intensified in the last week after Hamas had declared over the six-month truce over.

    At the same time, the Arab League has decided to delay until Wednesday the Foreign ministers' extraordinary meeting so that a joint position is adopted, as many minister were busy.

    The UN Demands Ceasefire

    After an extraordinary meeting on Saturday evening, requested by Libya, the UN Security Council appealed for an immediate ceasefire.

    After a four-hour meeting behind closed doors, the member-states issued an announcement, calling the involved parties to stop any military operations immediately and think of the serious humanitarian and financial needs in Gaza. The Security Council has invited both parties to take all necessary measures and open their border passing, so that Gaza inhabitants are provided with food, fuel and medicine.

    Earlier, Israel's ambassadress to the UN Gabriella Shalev defended her government's actions in the Gaza Strip in a letter to the UN Secretary General, holing Hamas responsible for the incidents.

    Bush Blames Hamas

    Outgoing US President George Bush defended Israel, holding Hamas responsible for the attacks."These people [Hamas] are nothing but thugs, and so Israel is going to defend its people against terrorists like Hamas," he said late on Saturday. "If Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel, then Israel would not have a need for strikes in Gaza," he told reporters. "What we've got to see is Hamas stop firing rockets into Israel," he added.

    Meanwhile, Mr Barrack Obama's spokesman Brooke Anderson said that the Us President-elect is monitoring the situations, reminding that he has not resumed his duties yet.

    International Reactions

    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized Israel, appealing for immediate action so that the crisis ends in the Gaza Strip.At the same time, the Iranian Parliament interrupted its session, with the MPs shouting "death to Israel", while the President of the Parliament Ali Larijani warned that Israel would soon face a third Intifada.Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina and Chile have condemned Israel's air raids against Gaza.Syria also denounced them, describing them "a barbaric crime."

    Egypt also condemned the attacks, opening the Rafah terminal station on its border with the Gaza Strip, so that the wounded are carried away.

    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak issued an official announcement, which condemns the attacks against the Gaza Strip, holding Israel responsible for the dead and the wounded.In parallel, the Egyptian Foreign Minister accused Hamas of not allowing the wounded Palestinians to pass to Egypt to be hospitalized.

    At the same time, 2,000 Egyptians demonstrated in Cairo against the Israeli attack, accusing President Hosni Mubarak of complicity, since he met with the Israeli Foreign Minister on Thursday to discuss the end of the truce.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez spoke of a criminal attack on behalf of Israel against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, condemning the American government's stance, describing it the only government in the globe that is an accomplice to the attack.

    In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.appeared especially concerned from the escalation of violence in the Middle East, expressing his puzzlement over Hamas' unilateral ceasefire with Israel.

    Although Germany respects Israel's legal right for sel-defence, he called Israel to exhibit self-restraint with its military actions so that casualties among civilians are averted.In Italy, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi expressed his concern over the resumption of hostilities, demanding and immediate end and supporting a dialogue that would lead to a firm and permanent solution.

    On a relative development, protest rallies were held in Morocco and France, with the demonstrators condemning Israel's raids against Gaza.

    In Bethlehem, the Mayor decided to put out the lights of the Christmas tree before the Church of Nativity until the end of January in protest to the crisis.

    Dora Bakoyannis' Statement

    Today, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis conveyed the government's concern, condemning the escalation of violence in the Middle East.

    "We express our deepest concern and denounce the extreme escalation of violence in Gaza, where hundreds of civilian Palestinians lost their life. We co-align with the EU's position on the developments, adding that Hamas' missiles triggered a new circle of violence and Israel's disproportional response with air raids and shelling, kills and wounds people and the hope for prospects for peace in this tragic region of the world. They are endangering the exceptionally fragile regional safety and security," she said.

    Ms Bakoyannis described the Middle East rekindling of hostilities a nightmarish prospect that should be averted at all costs, calling on the international community not to remain inactive and assume initiatives immediately for the de-escalation of the tension.

    "An end to the vicious circle of violence should be put and the victims in Gaza should receive international humanitarian help. Diplomacy should take over so that the peace process on the Palestinian issue continues," points out the foreign minister.

    Ms Bakoyannis adds that Greece hails the UN Security Council extraordinary meeting, adding that the EU is obliged to assume its main role. "Greece, which always condemns all forms of violence and terror, is ready to contribute in this effort. It is also ready to offer humanitarian aid when this is feasible."

    PASOK leader and International Socialist President George Papandreou condemned the attacks in Gaza on Saturday.

    Finally, KKE (Communists) and SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) are staging protest rallies at 18:00, Monday.

    Also Read: More Violence in the Middle East

    Sources: - 105.8-NA/PA

    News item: 17156

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