Our goal is to end the rocket fire, says Israel

By Yaakov Katz, December 31, 2008

Israel’s air strikes on Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead, may have set out to create shock and awe among the Palestinians but the ultimate goal is straightforward, say defence officials.

It is not to topple the Hamas regime or to replace Hamas with Fatah. Instead, the purpose of the operation is to “change the reality in southern Israel” and to make Hamas understand that it is against its interests to launch rockets into Israeli cities.


Analysis: Barak proves man for the moment

By Daniella Peled - Foreign Editor, December 31, 2008

A week is a long time in Israeli politics, too. Labour leader and defence minister Ehud Barak has long been a non-entity, languishing in the polls, his party an irrelevance.

But Barak seems to have pulled off an astonishing reversal. The operation in Gaza positions him as a man to lead in a crisis — and puts him in stark contrast to his predecessor as both Labour leader and Defence Minister Amir Peretz, whose performance in the Second Lebanon War was laughable.


'Shalit not in danger'

By Yaakov Katz, December 31, 2008

The IDF operation is not likely to endanger Gilad Shalit, the soldier captured by Hamas in June 2006, defence officials said this week.

Egyptian TV broadcast a report that Mr Shalit had been injured during the IDF operations. But the IDF released a statement saying: “Gilad Shalit is a valuable asset for Hamas.

“We believe it will do everything to keep him alive.”

Senior IDF officials have been in contact with the Shalit family and warned them that Hamas might try to use their son as part of the psychological warfare campaign against Israel.


Analysis: Tehran has its own agenda in Gaza

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, December 31, 2008

Beyond the immediate objective of restoring calm to Israel’s south, there are four additional reasons for Israel’s operation.

First, there is the criminal nature of the Hamas government in Gaza, which has done all in its power to harm its own population. Hamas has turned Gazans into human shields, behind whom it hides its military infrastructure. And it has prioritised ‘resistance’ to Israeli ‘occupation’ — presumably of Israel itself — over improving the daily lives of Gazans.


Analysis: Cairo bears a major part of the responsibility for the conflict

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 31, 2008

In all the talk of the siege, blockade and humanitarian disaster of Gaza, one small inconvenient detail almost always goes unmentioned. Gaza has a second border in addition to the one with Israel: a small but potentially useful border with its Arab sister, Egypt.

Three-and-a-half years ago, when the international community was still hopefully predicting a peaceful outcome to Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip, the Egyptians were self-importantly promising to play a major role in the security arrangements from the day after the pullout.


Israeli Arabs pelt police with stones

By Ben Lynfield, December 31, 2008

Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrated this week over Israel’s aerial bombardments in Gaza, widely described by them as a “massacre”.

But Arab leaders and police both said confrontations had not reached the same degree of violence which characterised the October 2000 clashes at the start of the second intifada, when 13 Arab protestors were shot dead.


Protestors target embassy

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 31, 2008

The Israeli Embassy was repeatedly targeted this week by demonstrators, who accused Israel of carrying out a “Holocaust in Gaza”.


Thousands march across Arab world

December 31, 2008

Demonstrations swept the Arab world this week as tens of thousands of people marched to protest against Israel’s actions in Gaza.

A number of mass rallies were held in Beirut, including one where thousands turned out to hear a video address by Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who called for “a third intifada” in response to the air strikes.


Israel claims success in the PR war

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 31, 2008

Fewer military officers; more women; tightly controlled messages; and ministers kept on a short leash. This was Israel’s new media game-plan in Operation Cast Lead.

The Gaza attack is the first major demonstration of Israel’s total overhaul of its ‘hasbara’ operation following the Second Lebanon War. While the military aspects of the operation were meticulously planned, a new forum of press advisers was also established which has been working for the past six months on a PR strategy specifically geared to dealing with the media during warfare in Gaza.


Top speakers’ pullout fails to dent Limmud

By Simon Rocker, December 30, 2008

The crisis in Gaza forced the withdrawal of Mark Regev, international media adviser to the Prime Minister of Israel, from the Limmud winter conference which opened at Warwick University near Coventry on Sunday.

Along with Mr Regev, Kadima MK Menachem Ben-Sasson also pulled out at the last minute because of the latest events at home.

Elliott Goldstein, chair of Limmud, said: “Obviously, we are sorry they can’t join us. But we still have nearly 100 presenters at the conference from Israel speaking on a huge range of topics, including the unfolding situation.”