Monday, January 19, 2009

War in Gaza - QUOTES

A Palestinian doctor at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital disputed the number of Palestinians that Hamas says have been killed in the campaign: "It's possible that the death toll in Gaza was 500 or 600 at the most, mainly youths aged 17 to 23 who were enlisted by Hamas - who sent them to their deaths . . . . Perhaps it is like Jenin in 2002. At the beginning they spoke about 1,500 dead, and at the end it turned out to be only 54 - of whom 45 were militants."

-- President-elect Barak Obama said earlier this year about the more than 6,300 rockets and mortar shells from Gaza that have rained down on Israel since 2005: “If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I would do everything to stop that, and would expect Israel to do the same thing.”
-- View for yourself this video of Obama at a press conference in the beleaguered Israeli city of Sderot in July 2008: Obama says, “[Hamas] terror is intolerable. Israelis should not have to live in danger in their homes and schools.”

-- Secretary of State Hilary Clinton: "We support Israel's right to self-defence. The (Palestinian) rocket barrages which are getting closer and closer to populated areas (in Israel) cannot go unanswered . . . . It is regrettable that the Hamas leadership apparently believes that it is in their interest to provoke the right of self-defence instead of building a better future for the people of Gaza."

-- Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said Israel had the right to defend itself: "Let us realize one thing: Hamas increased steeply the number of rockets fired at Israel since the ceasefire ended on December 19. That is not acceptable any more," Schwarzenberg said in an interview. He said Hamas had excluded itself from serious political debate due to its rocket attacks on Israel. He also indirectly blamed the group for the growing death toll, saying it put its bases and gun warehouses in densely populated areas. "Why am I one of the few that have expressed understanding for Israel? ... I am enjoying the luxury of telling the truth," Schwarzenberg told the daily.

-- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled to Israel to express solidarity with the people of Israel. In a telephone interview with The AP, Bloomberg said he fully understood Israel's actions. "You should rest assured, if anyone in New York was being threatened, my instruction to the NYPD would be to use all the resources at their disposal to protect civilians . . . . All Hamas has to do is stop sending rockets over to kill people and agree on the accords that were negotiated earlier and come to an agreement that is verifiable, durable and effective to stop people from being killed.",0,4236989.story?track=rss
-- Watch video at:

-- Senators Harry Reid and Dick Durbin — the top two Democrats in the chamber — described Israel's actions as understandable. "I think what the Israelis are doing is very important," Reid said. "I think this terrorist organization, Hamas, has got to be put away. They've got to come to their senses."

-- Said Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell: "Hamas is a terrorist organization. Imagine in this country if somebody from a neighboring country were lobbing shells at our population. We'd do exactly the same thing. I think the Israelis are doing the only thing they can possibly do to defend their population."
--Read what other U.S. officials have said in support of Israel:

-- Al Franken, engaged in a close election for Minnesota senator, said that the U.S. relationship with Israel is a "pillar of our foreign policy" and that he would continue to uphold that commitment "as a United States senator." "Let us stand together to send a clear message to the Israeli people. In this complex and dangerous world, you do not stand alone."

-- Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit harshly censures Hamas for the current situation in Gaza. At a press conference along with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Gheit said that Egypt had repeatedly cautioned Hamas against continuing the rocket fire on Israel and that if they did not listen they should assume responsibility for the consequences. He added that Israel had publicly warned that continued rocket fire would lead to military action, and that Hamas fired 60 rockets on Thursday alone:
-- In this video clip, Gheit blames Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza, for not allowing wounded Palestinians to be transferred to Egypt for medical attention:
(Read also:

-- Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blamed the rival Islamist group Hamas for triggering Israel's deadly raids on Gaza by not extending a six-month truce with the Jewish state: "We talked to [Hamas] and we told them ‘Please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop' so that we could have avoided what happened," he said in Cairo.

-- Nimr Hammad, an advisor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said: "The one responsible for the massacres is Hamas, and not the Zionist entity, which in its own view reacted to the firing of Palestinian missiles. Hamas needs to stop treating the blood of Palestinians lightly. They should not give the Israelis a pretext."

-- Muhammad Dahlan, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and of Fatah's Revolutionary Council, told the Arabic language newspaper al-Hayat that Hamas has sacrificed “the Palestinian cause for the illusion of an Islamic emirate in Gaza.”

-- Dahlan, though unsurprisingly critical of Israel, blames Hamas for the Gaza War: “With their rockets, [Hamas] gave Israel a pretext for the war. Hamas is one of the worst organizations in the region. People are afraid of the Islamists and no one in Gaza dares to express criticism. Otherwise they face imprisonment or even death. Just like Israel, Hamas shows no consideration for ordinary people -- its fighters fire rockets right from the heart of residential areas . . . . Since their election they have lost all legitimacy. Their sole strategy is destruction and chaos.”,1518,599459,00.html

-- Mohammed Shriteh, a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance driver: "We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us." Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety. He claims Hamas made several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital's fleet of ambulances during the war.

-- Fatchi El-Zaarir, a Fatah spokesperson, on Arab television: “I believe Hamas principally knew that Israel would react and therefore it claims that Israel was the first to assault, which is false. (at 2:25 in)

-- Palestinian columnist Muwaffaq Matar blamed Hamas for being responsible for the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza: "Will we learn the lesson, or are our leaders going to run away from bearing responsibility, as they usually do? If we believe in the value of men and in humanity, we should establish a Palestinian investigative committee that will reveal to the Palestinian people what happened, and why over 200 people have lost their lives and 750 have been injured within one hour, even though the calls for war, the speeches and the statements [in Israel], were abundant a week before the tahdiah ended. . . . What did the commanders in Gaza expect? . . . This bloodshed and horrible destruction of our national institutions could have been prevented."

-- 13 year old Yousef Nakhala, a Palestinian resident of Gaza: “I blame Hamas. It doesn’t want to recognize Israel. If they did so there could be peace. Egypt made a peace treaty with Israel, and nothing is happening to them.”

-- A Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah said, "It was a big mistake [for Israel] to end the war this way. The fact that Hamas is still in power is bad for all . . . . There's no room for these Hamas thugs in the West Bank. We won't allow Hamas to turn the West Bank into another Islamic republic."

-- Lama, a secretary for a Gaza company: "Rockets must end. What did we gain from them? Now Hamas is negotiating a truce. They were given an offer to renew it in December but they refused. Now after thousands of casualties, how does Hamas explain that?"

-- Karam Jaber, editor of the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Youssef, blamed Hamas for inflicting “death and destruction on the Palestinians. . . . We hope the Hamas leaders will realize that they are fighting a destructive war on behalf of the Iranians and Syrians.”

-- A Palestinian resident of Tal al-Hawa (in Gaza) told a newspaper reporter of Hamas’s tactic of using human shields: "Armed Hamas men sought out a good position for provoking the Israelis. There were mostly teenagers, aged 16 or 17, and armed. They couldn't do a thing against a tank or a jet. They knew they are much weaker, but they fired at our houses so that they could blame Israel for war crimes.",7340,L-3660423,00.html

-- One Gazan recalled civilians in Gaza shouting at Hamas and Islamic Jihad men, "Go away, go away from here! Do you want the Israelis to kill us all? Do you want our children to die under their bombs? Take your guns and missiles with you."
-- "Traitors, collaborators with Israel, spies of Fatah, cowards! The soldiers of the holy war will punish you. And in any case you will all die, like us. Fighting the Zionist Jews we are all destined for paradise. Do you not wish to die with us?" the religious fanatics of Hamas reportedly responded.

-- Abu Abed, a Palestinian resident of Gaza: "I've changed my mind about Hamas. I can't support any party that wages a war that destroys our lives." He is particularly pained by the fact that Hamas is still selling the cease-fire as a victory. "Who has won here?" he asks and points to the debris that was once his home.
-- A neighbor adds: "Many people are now against Hamas but that won't change anything. Because anyone who stands up to them is killed . . . . There will never be a rebellion against Hamas. It would be suicide.",1518,603203,00.html

-- European Union aid commissioner Louis Michel said during a visit to Gaza that said that Hamas bears an "enormous responsibility" for what happened in the Gaza Strip and added, "Hamas is a terror movement and needs to be treated as such and held responsible for its actions."

-- UN Humanitarian Affairs Chief John Holmes: "The reckless and cynical use of civilian installations by Hamas and indiscriminate firing of rockets against civilian populations are clear violations of international humanitarian law."

-- German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that responsibility for the three-day-old Israeli air offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip lies "clearly and exclusively" with Hamas.,1518,598724,00.html.
-- Further, Merkel stated that "the terror of Hamas cannot be accepted" and demanded that Hamas "immediately and permanently" stop its rocket attacks on Israel.

-- A sampling of callers into the Iranian Radio Farda: “The clerical regime is lying. It was not Israel who started this war”; “Any other country [apart from Israel] would have done the same a long time ago”; “Hamas should be destroyed. This cowardly group is taking cover in hospitals and residential areas. The people of Gaza should help Israel.”

-- Palestinian cleric Muhsen Abu 'Ita, on Al-Aqsa TV on July 13, 2008: “The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine. This will be followed by a greater blessing, Allah be praised, with the establishment of a Caliphate that will rule the land and will be pleasing to men and God.”

-- Khaled Mashaal, the exiled leader of Hamas, made it clear that Hamas will not live with any Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East: "The struggle must continue until the entire siege on the Strip is lifted and until the liberation of Palestine -- all of Palestine." -- Mashaal recently told Iranian students: “God willing we will liberate Al-Quds (Jerusalem) together and pray together there. We are fully preparing ourselves to liberate all of Palestine, retake Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and secure the return of all Palestinians.”;_ylt=AlyMSym6Y9ExgXKtHT18mkuaOrgF -- Mashaal, in February 2006: “Before Israel dies, we must defeat and humiliate it. Before they die, god willing, they will daily absorb defeat and humiliation.” (at 35 seconds in)

-- Hamas legislator Ismail Radwan said Hamas is stronger than ever and poised to one day take control not just of the West Bank, but also of Israel. "Gaza is not our goal. The liberation of all of Palestine, from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea, God willing, will be achieved."
-- Hamas representative Fathi Hamad explains Hamas’s ideology to use civilians as human shields for its fighters: "For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly [Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: We desire death as you desire life."

-- When accused of acting cowardly by hiding among civilian infrastructure, Hamas parliamentarian Mushir al-Masri explained, "Fear is the last thing we could be accused of. Martyrdom is our dearest wish, but God has ordered us not to pose ourselves as easy prey for our enemies."

After being injured, an Islamic Jihad fighter was taken to a hospital, smiling. “Why are you so happy? Look around you. Don’t you see that these people are hurting?” the militant was asked. “But I am from the people, too,” he said, his smile incandescent. “They lost their loved ones as martyrs. They should be happy. I want to be a martyr, too.”

-- A Hamas fighter in Gaza gives an insight into the terror group’s ideology: "The difference between us and them [the Israelis] is that they wait passionately for the day they can return home safely, while we bid farewell to our families and hope to die as martyrs."
-- Another Hamas fighter in Gaza proclaimed, “We are soldiers who run towards death. They run away from it.”
Excerpts from footage of Hamas female martyrdom-seekers in Gaza, which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on December 30, 2008:
-- Masked woman clad in explosives belt: “I, the martyrdom-seeker Umm Suheib . . . swear by Allah that I will turn my body parts into a fire that will burn the occupation soldiers, if they move towards my house . . . . There are thousands of martyrdom-seeking women like me, waiting for the occupier, in order to avenge these massacres.”
-- Masked woman holding rifle: “We convey this message to the Israeli army high command, which bombards our sons day and night: We, the martyrdom-seeking women of Palestine, mothers as well as girls, are waiting impatiently for them to come . . . . I am the mother of two martyrs, and I will sacrifice myself as a martyr, Allah willing. I will turn my blood into bombs that will burn them . . . . My honorable people, have more forbearance and steadfastness. Your daughters march by your side on the path of Jihad and martyrdom.”
-- Second masked woman holding a rifle: “We are all the daughters of Palestine, the daughters of steadfast Gaza. We will set out, booby-trapped. From every home, a bomb will set out, and it will explode among the sons of Zion. We are no less than Fatima Al-Najjar and Rim Al-Riyashi [two Palestinian women who blew themselves up among Israelis]. We will blow ourselves up among those traitors, those apes and pigs.”

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
in an interview on Al Arabiya, to the Palestinian people in Gaza: “You the citizens of Gaza, you can stop [the rockets]. I know how much you want to get up in the morning to quiet, to take your children to kindergarten or school, the way we do, the way they want to in Sderot and Netivot . . . . We want to live as good neighbors with Gaza. We do not want to harm you. We will not allow a humanitarian crisis and that you should suffer from a lack of food or medicines. We do not want to fight the Palestinian people but we will not allow Hamas to strike our children.”

Israeli President Shimon Peres: "Israel, of its own accord evicted settlements and settlers from Gaza…so I ask myself, why are they shooting? What do they want to accomplish? What do they expect, that we won't respond? No one among us longs for war, but at the top of our priorities is the safety of our children.”,7340,L-3645607,00.html

The writer A.B. Yehoshua, noted dove who opposes Israel’s occupation and promotes a Palestinian state: “ ‘Imagine,’ I tell a French reporter, ‘that every two days a missile falls in the Champs-Élysées and only the glass windows of the shops break and five people suffer from shock,’ ” Mr. Yehoshua told a reporter from Yediot Aharonot, a Tel Aviv newspaper. “What would you say? Wouldn’t you be angry? Wouldn’t you send missiles at Belgium if it were responsible for missiles on your grand boulevard?’

A Fatah activist in Gaza City claimed that as many as 80 members of his faction wee either shot in the legs or had their hands broken for allegedly defying Hamas's house-arrest orders. "What's happening in the Gaza Strip is a new massacre that is being carried out by Hamas against Fatah," he said. "Where were these [Hamas] cowards when the Israeli army was here?"

Hassan, a Palestinian father of five in Gaza, objected to Hamas firing rockets not for moral reasons, but for practical ones: "Rockets -- I think this issue needs to be stopped for sometime and restudied," he said. "Once we have a missile that can reach the heart of Tel Aviv and blow up a building, maybe they can resume fire."

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