Wednesday, December 31, 2008

IAF uses new US-supplied smart bomb - How Israel tricked Hamas before launching Gaza strikes - US Media Silent - Bush Congratulates Himself - Freedom Christmas

IAF uses new US-supplied smart bomb

Dec 29, 2008 1:18 | Updated Dec 29, 2008 9:15

The Israel Air Force used a new bunker-buster missile that it received recently from the United States in strikes against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, The Jerusalem Post learned on Sunday.

The missile, called GBU-39, was developed in recent years by the US as a small-diameter bomb for low-cost, high-precision and low collateral damage strikes.

Israel received approval from Congress to purchase 1,000 units in September and defense officials said on Sunday that the first shipment had arrived earlier this month and was used successfully in penetrating underground Kassam launchers in the Gaza Strip during the heavy aerial bombardment of Hamas infrastructure on Saturday. It was also used in Sunday's bombing of tunnels in Rafah.

The GPS-guided GBU-39 is said to be one of the most accurate bombs in the world. The 113-kg. bomb has the same penetration capabilities as a normal 900-kg. bomb, although it has only 22.7 kg. of explosives. At just 1.75 meters long, its small size increases the number of bombs an aircraft can carry and the number of targets it can attack in a sortie.

Tests conducted in the US have proven that the bomb is capable of penetrating at least 90 cm. of steel-reinforced concrete. The GBU-39 can be used in adverse weather conditions and has a standoff range of more than 110 km. due to pop-out wings.

Also Sunday, Military Intelligence's Psychological Warfare Department broke into radio broadcasts in Gaza and warned Palestinian civilians not to cooperate with Hamas terrorist activity.

Palestinians reported that they received phone calls to their cellular phones and landlines from the IDF. The phone call, the Palestinians said, conveyed a recorded message ordering the immediate evacuation of homes that were next to Hamas infrastructure or being used by the terrorist organization.

On Sunday, head of the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration Col. Moshe Levy was interviewed by several Arab news outlets during which he stressed that Israel was not against the Palestinian public in Gaza but was operating against Hamas.

Defense officials said Sunday that Israel would, however, not hesitate to target the homes of civilians who protected Hamas terrorists throughout the operation.

"We will go after every Hamas operative, no matter where he is," one official said. "We urge the Palestinians not to cooperate with terrorists."

Hamas hits back against Israeli raids

ISRAELI jets bombed Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip for a third day today amid growing international calls for an end to the violence that has left more than 300 dead.

As Israeli tanks massed ahead of an expected ground operation, warplanes staged dozens of bombing raids in the densely populated Palestinian enclave, killing seven people, including six children, medics said.

In retaliation, Palestinian militants in Gaza today fired a rocket into the southern city of Ashkelon, killing one Israeli and injuring seven others.

It marked the second Israeli killed by Palestinian militant fire since Saturday, when Israel unleashed a massive air blitz of the Gaza Strip that has since killed at least 310 Palestinians and wounded more than 1400.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon repeated his call for an end to the hostilities and urged Israel to allow humanitarian aid into the enclave, which it has kept virtually sealed since Hamas seized power there in June 2007.

"He strongly urges once again an immediate stop to all acts of violence," his spokeswoman said.

Gaza medics said that among the Palestinians killed overnight were four girls from the same family aged from one to 12 years old.

They died in an air raid in the northern town of Jabaliya that targeted a mosque near their home, while two boys were killed in a raid on the southern city of Rafah, medics said.

China and Japan joined the growing international chorus for a halt to the violence, which has also included Britain, France and Russia.

Beijing said it was "shocked and seriously concerned" at the violence, while Japan called on Israel to "exercise its utmost self-restraint" and for Palestinian militants to halt rocket attacks.

Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian movement branded a terror group by Israel and the West, remained defiant and lashed out at the world for not doing enough to end the Israeli blitz.

Israel is "committing a holocaust as the whole world watches and doesn't lift a finger to stop it", Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said.

The Islamist group "reserves the right to hit back at this aggression with martyr operations," meaning suicide bombings of the sort Hamas has not carried out inside Israel since January 2005, he said.

Hamas has responded to the Israeli onslaught by firing rockets and mortars into the Jewish state, Some of the rockets landed about 30km inside Israel, the farthest yet.

Despite the ongoing bombardment, Israel said it would allow 100 truck-loads of humanitarian aid into Gaza. The Kerem Shalom crossing in Gaza's south was opened this morning to allow the passage of the goods, an Israeli military spokesman said.

Amid vows by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak to expand the air blitz and to send in ground troops if necessary, the Israeli cabinet on Sunday gave the green light to call up 6500 reserve soldiers.

The Israeli offensive sparked protests across the world, with demonstrations held in European capitals, Turkey, Egypt and Syria.

Israel unleashed Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the middle of Saturday morning, with some 60 warplanes bombing more than 50 targets in just a few minutes.

The Israeli blitz came after days of spiralling violence since the expiry of the Gaza truce. It comes less than two months before snap parliamentary elections in Israel called for February 10.

Attack on Gaza: As Usual, U.S. Media (And Most Liberals) Silent -- As Israeli Newspaper Raises Doubts

Greg Mitchell

Editor of 'Editor & Publisher'

Posted December 28, 2008

In the usual process, the U.S. government, media here -- and most of the leading liberal bloggers -- are silent or playing down questions about whether Israel overreacted in its massive air strikes on Gaza, while the foreign press, and even Haaretz in Israel, carries more balanced accounts.

Anyone who cares should consult the respected Haaretz site often, if for no other reason than to learn that criticism of Israeli military actions are usually more heated inside that country than in the USA. The New York Times, for example, as of today (Monday), has not yet editorialized on the air assault. You may recall the lockstep support in the U.S. for Israeli's invasion of southern Lebanon, which included the use of U.S.-made cluster bombs. That invasion turned out to be a genuine fiasco.

One Sunday analysis at Haaretz: "A million and a half human beings, most of them downcast and desperate refugees, live in the conditions of a giant jail, fertile ground for another round of bloodletting. The fact that Hamas may have gone too far with its rockets is not the justification of the Israeli policy for the past few decades, for which it justly merits an Iraqi shoe to the face."

Another opinion piece in Haaretz -- titled, "Neighborhood Bully Strikes Again" -- by Gideon Levy: "Israel embarked yesterday on yet another unnecessary, ill-fated war. On July 16, 2006, four days after the start of the Second Lebanon War, I wrote: 'Every neighborhood has one, a loud-mouthed bully who shouldn't be provoked into anger... Not that the bully's not right - someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction!' Two and a half years later, these words repeat themselves, to our horror, with chilling precision. Within the span of a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, the IDF sowed death and destruction on a scale that the Qassam rockets never approached in all their years, and Operation 'Cast Lead' is only in its infancy."

Also from Haaretz, Zvi Barel writes: "Six months ago Israel asked and received a cease-fire from Hamas. It unilaterally violated it when it blew up a tunnel, while still asking Egypt to get the Islamic group to hold its fire." Yet the U.S. media refers that only Hamas violated the ceasefire.

Another columnist there, Yossi Sarid, writes: "I can only hope that this time, for a change, we will know when to stop. This war must be described from the get-go as a war 'to be on the safe side,' rather than of necessity, and it is still unclear whether the last missile fired will be fired by us or by them."

Amira Hass, the paper's correspondent in Gaza, reports: "There are many corpses and wounded, every moment another casualty is added to the list of the dead, and there is no more room in the morgue. Relatives search among the bodies and the wounded in order to bring the dead quickly to burial. A mother whose three school-age children were killed, and are piled one on top of the other in the morgue, screams and then cries, screams again and then is silent."

From the lead Haaretz editorial: "[T]he inherent desire for retribution does not necessarily have to blind us to the view from the day after....Israel's violation of the lull in November expedited the deterioration that gave birth to the war of yesterday. But even if this continues for many days and even weeks, it will end in an agreement, or at least an understanding similar to that reached last June."

UPDATE: A McClatchy dispatch quotes Daniel Levy, a political analyst in Israel who once served as an adviser to Ehud Barak, who is leading the military campaign against Hamas: "I don't see how this ends well, even if, in two weeks time, it looks like it ends well."

Haaretz has just posted this from another columnist, Tom Segev: "[T]he assault on Gaza does not first and foremost demand moral condemnation - it demands a few historical reminders. Both the justification given for it and the chosen targets are a replay of the same basic assumptions that have proven wrong time after time. Yet Israel still pulls them out of its hat again and again, in one war after another."

And this from another columnist, Akiva Eldar: "The tremendous population density in the Gaza Strip does not allow a "surgical operation" over an extended period that would minimize damage to civilian populations. The difficult images from the Strip will soon replace those of the damage inflicted by Qassam rockets in the western Negev. The scale of losses, which works in 'favor' of the Palestinians, will return Israel to the role of Goliath."

The New York Times
late Sunday reported, "At Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, women wailed as they searched for relatives among bodies that lay strewn on the hospital floor. One doctor said that given the dearth of facilities, not much could be done for the seriously wounded, and that it was 'better to be brought in dead.'"

The Washington Post's update: "By late Sunday night, the toll had reached 290 dead and as many as 1,300 wounded, Moawia Hassanain, a senior Palestinian Health Ministry official, said in an interview. The fatalities included 22 children younger than 16; more than 235 children were wounded, he said."

Greg Mitchell is editor of Editor & Publisher. His latest book, on Iraq and the media, is "So Wrong for So Long."

America Can't Wait for Bush to Leave

Bush Congratulating Himself, Trying to Shake Own Hand.

by Amanda Terkel, Think Progress

Freedom Christmas
Be kind to America, or we'll bring democracy to your country.

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