Gaza war offers boost to Hamas leader Meshaal

Tom Perry & Nidal al-Mughrabi | Cairo / Gaza | November 22

Reuters – Khaled Meshaal narrowly survived an assassination attempt ordered by Benjamin Netanyahu in 1997 the first time he was Israeli prime minister. Fifteen years on, the Hamas leader claims to have defeated Netanyahu once again.

The eight-day war between Israel and Palestinians in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip – a Hamas victory in Meshaal’s eyes – has breathed new life into his political career just he seemed poised to leave his post. Meshaal indicated earlier this year he did not want to continue as Hamas leader.

Meshaal, 56, took over as Hamas leader following the 2004 assassinations of Abdel-Aziz Al-Rantissi and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movement’s founder. With both of them killed in the Gaza Strip, Meshaal has led Hamas from the relative safety of exile.

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If arrogant means not the dumbest motherfucker in the room, then I guess I'm arrogant (though sometimes I wonder).

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  • Israeli government claims mission accomplished – but public sceptical

    Harriet Sherwood | Jerusalem | November 22

    The Guardian – Israel’s political leadership claimed on Thursday that the eight-day military offensive in Gaza achieved its single goal of restoring calm to the south of the country, while acknowledging the durability of the ceasefire would be tested in the coming days and weeks.

    “We had one simple goal: to restore quiet to the border,” said the deputy prime minister, Dan Meridor. “That limited goal was fully achieved.” However, he added, it remained to be seen whether a lasting peace was in place.

    Israel used force “in a moderate and measured way”, he said. Precision targeting limited the number of casualties in Gaza, he added, noting that the 150-plus deaths over the eight days of fighting was just over a tenth of the 1,400 Palestinians killed in the 22-day Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09.

    Damage to the military capabilities of Hamas and other militant groups was extensive, after the Israeli Defence Forces targeted more than 1,500 sites. An analyst, Yossi Alpher, said: “A lot of damage has been done to Hamas’s command and logistics infrastructure. This will become clear to the Hamas leadership in the coming days as they get out of their bunkers.”

  • Israel pulls back from Gaza, invasion force intact

    Douglas Hamilton | Israel | November 22

    Reuters – Israel began withdrawing the army on Thursday that had been poised to invade the Gaza Strip to go after Hamas, with both sides declaring they had won their eight-day battle.

    Dust-covered tanks and armored bulldozers were winched onto transporters and driven out of the same groves of straggly eucalyptus where they camped in January 2009 before going in.

    That conflict cost more than 1,400 lives, all but 13 Palestinian, while this time, some 160 Palestinians were killed in eight days of fighting, against six Israelis.

    Hamas nevertheless declared it had come out on top.

    “From the lion’s den, we declare victory,” said Abu Ubaida, spokesman of Hamas’ armed wing, Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam Brigades. Israel’s “security hallucination” had been exposed.

    Islamist militants launched more than 700 rockets from Gaza by the end of October, Israel said, to explain its decision to set off the latest conflict by killing Hamas’s top military commander with a precision strike from an F16 fighter jet.

    Psychologically and in propaganda terms, the long-range rockets Hamas fired all the way towards Tel Aviv and Jerusalem over the past eight days were a game-changer, celebrated by Gazans who were also relieved the invasion never came.

    But 84 percent of Gaza’s rockets were knocked out of the sky by Israel’s new Iron Dome interceptor defence, neutralising Hamas’ main weapon.

    The Israeli army says Islamist fighters fired 1,500 rockets at Israel, both home made and smuggled from Iran, scoring two lethal hits. The same number of Israeli strikes killed 30 senior militiamen and blew up rockets, launchers and arms dumps.

  • Haniyeh calls on Palestinians to honor truce agreement

    Khaled Abu Toameh | Jerusalem | November 22

    Jerusalem Post – Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh affirmed his movement’s commitment to the cease-fire deal during a televised “victory” speech on Thursday, calling on Palestinian groups to honor the truce agreement.

    Defiant Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders expressed satisfaction with the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire and warned Israel against attacking the Gaza Strip again.

    “We are satisfied with the truce agreement, which constitutes a basis for halting the enemy’s aggression against our people,” Haniyeh declared.

    “Our main goal will remain to remove the occupation so that our people would be able to establish their free state on all of Palestine and Jerusalem.”

    He warned Israel that “if you return [to attack us], we will also return.”

    Haniyeh saluted Palestinians in the Gaza Strip for their “steadfastness” during the IDF offensive.

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