>

Congressman Keith Ellison – understanding the Palestinian narrative

Keith Ellison, a US congressman for the state of Minnesota and the only Muslim to be elected to US congress, talks to Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi about the Israeli offensive in Gaza and why he feels so few US politicians understand the Middle East.

Ellison also draws attention to possible US complicity in war crimes through the use of US supplied weaponry by Israel.

In further updates, Hugo Chavez has expelled the Israeli Ambassador.

Israel will halt its bombardment of Gaza for three hours daily to allow residents of the Gaza to obtain much-needed supplies.

However, Israel insists it has already allowed enough supplies into Gaza during the conflict, although the UN says there is a humanitarian crisis because of shortages of food, fuel and medicines.

Heba, a Gaza resident and mother of two, told Al Jazeera there was no place left in Gaza that can be considered safe.

“What happened in the school was a hugely offensive and inhumane thing. We never expected that people who sought refuge in a UN building would be attacked and killed,” she said.

Randa Seniora, from the Independent Commission on Human Rights, told Al Jazeera: “What is happening in Gaza are crimes against humanity.

“Israel cannot claim, as an occupying authority, that it is acting in self defence because simply it is considered a war crime to create harm and damage among civilian populations.”

@AJGaza Hamas says it will not fire rockets into Israel during the same period of time, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reports.

@AJGaza Shelling heard in #Gaza during Israel’s three hour ceasefire to allow Palestinians access to aid, Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports.

@AJGaza Five houses in #Gaza hit by Israeli air attacks ten minutes into Israel’s three-hour pause in hostilities, Al Jazeera’s correspondent says.

@AJGaza One rocket and two mortars fired from #Gaza by Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, thirty minutes into hostility pause.

@AJGaza Israeli apache helicopters open fire in Beit Lahiya, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reports.

@AJGaza Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, says Israel and the Palestinian Authority had accepted a truce plan for #Gaza announced by Egypt.

Are Hamas being marginalised in this pseudo-truce? – Israel and the PA are already in cahoots, there hasn’t needed to be a truce between them. Has Abbas received the nod from the big boys?

Has Al Qaeda been taking lessons from neocons? or from Israel and their “proportionate responses”?

(CNN) — An audio message reportedly from al Qaeda’s deputy chief vows revenge for Israel’s air and ground assault on Gaza and calls the Jewish state’s actions against Hamas militants “a gift” from U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

Al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri is said to address Muslims in Gaza in an audio message released Tuesday.

The speaker, identified as Ayman al-Zawahiri, addresses Muslims in Gaza. He said the violence “is one part of a series of a crusade war against Islam and these air strikes are a gift from Obama before he takes office, and (Egyptian President) Hosni Mubarak, that traitor, is the main partner in your siege and killing.”

The message, posted Tuesday on various Islamist Web sites with a picture of al-Zawahiri next to an image of a wounded child, urges militants to rally against Israel.

“My Muslim brothers and mujahedeens in Gaza and all over Palestine, with the help of God we are with you in the battle, we will direct our strikes against the crusader Jewish coalition wherever we can.”

@AJGaza Osama Hamdan, Hamas representative in Lebanon, says Franco-Egyptian peace initiative “still being discussed”.

@AJGaza Israel’s pause in hostilities to allow Palestinians access to aid only applied to #Gaza City in the #Gaza strip, Israel says.

Even to say Hamas is the cause of this is to blame the rape victim for what she was wearing.

@rafahkid Binational state? Not a chance because Israel has to be Jewish. Two states? Not a chance because Palestine has the resources. So, we die.

The UNHRC is holding a special session on Friday on Gaza

at the request of Islamic and developing countries as well as Russia.

The formal request — from 29 members of the 47-nation body — says the session should discuss “the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression in the Occupied Gaza Strip.”

Resolutions issued by the Council are not binding.

Still, a resolution now might add to the weight of proceedings at Le Hague later on when the war criminals are tried.

@AJGaza Israel’s halt in fire agreement applies to whole of #Gaza and not just #Gaza City, correcting earlier statement, Israeli military says.

FURTHER UPDATES

Hamas will not accept a permanent truce without an end to the occupation and opening of the crossings i.e. end to the terrible blockade which Israel has inflicted on its less than model concentration camp for nearly 2 years. Sounds reasonable. Perhaps Hamas feels the world is paying attention, and now is as good a time as any to make a stand?

White phosphorus shells being used by Israel?

To cover the advances of its illegal, barbaric incursion into Gaza, is Israel is deploying white phosphorus shells?

Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on the planet, and the use of white phosphorus (Willy Pete) in civilian areas is forbidden. Israel, which is a serial violator of international conventions in ‘defence’ of its apartheid, racist state, used white phosphorus in its attack on Lebanon in 2006.

The Geneva Treaty of 1980 stipulates that white phosphorus should not be used as a weapon of war in civilian areas, but there is no blanket ban under international law on its use as a smokescreen or for illumination. Charles Heyman, a military expert and former major in the British Army, said: “If white phosphorus was deliberately fired at a crowd of people someone would end up in The Hague. White phosphorus is also a terror weapon. The descending blobs of phosphorus will burn when in contact with skin.”

Israel continues to refuse a cease fire which would allow humanitarian aid into Gaza and medical supplies are running dangerously low.

Israel Destroys Medical Infrastructure in Palestine

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel documents contraventions to the Geneva Conventions and human rights violations as Israel attacks beleaguered, impoverished Gaza on false pretexts. In fact Israel breached the cease fire with Hamas on November 4 in several instances.

Israeli propaganda site Israel Politik, run by the Israeli Consulate in New York, has still failed to publish our refutation of their lies that Hamas breached the cease fire.

Yoram Cohen, till recently Deputy Directory of the Shin Bet confirmed Israel breached the cease fire. He wrote:

a similar account for the Washington Institute.

“Last week, Israeli forces entered Gaza, destroyed an underground border tunnel, and battled Hamas fighters, leaving several militants dead. In response, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired around eighty rockets into southern Israel, including the Israeli city of Ashkelon,” he wrote

“On June 19, 2008, Israel and Hamas began observing an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire, which was intended to last six months with an option to extend. In general, Hamas has observed the ceasefire; the number of attacks and rocket launches has decreased significantly, and Hamas has prevented other Gaza militant organizations from striking Israel,” wrote Cohen.

CNN confirms Israel broke the truce in the video below:

On Jan 2, PHR-Israel said:

Since fighting began in the Gaza Strip, PHR-Israel has received 6 reports of Israeli Air Force attacks on medical insfrustructure and personnel.

On Jan 4, the UN alerted the world to further Israeli attacks on medical infrastructure.

This morning, an ambulance of Al Awda hospital in the north was shelled, seriously injuring 4 medical staff. Palestine Square in central.

In addition:

It is essential that patients and ambulances are able to reach hospitals, that agencies are able to access warehouses in order to conduct distributions. Currently movement within the Strip is severely challenged.