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Cablegate: Jerusalem Media Reaction (12/29): "Massacre" in Gaza

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DE RUEHJM #2294/01 3641055
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 291055Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL JERUSALEM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3589
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
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RUEAHQA/CSAF WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
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RUENAAA/CNO WASHINGTON DC//POLAD//
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
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RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 4448
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 4296
RUEHNC/AMEMBASSY NICOSIA 5790
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 4212
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2782

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 JERUSALEM 002294

SIPDIS

STATE PASS BBG
STATE FOR NEA, NEA/IPA, NEA/PPD
WHITE HOUSE FOR PRESS OFFICE, SIT ROOM
NSC FOR ABRAMS
CMC WASHINGTON DC FOR POLAD

JERUSALEM ALSO FOR ICD
LONDON FOR HKANONA AND POL - TSOU
PARIS ALSO FOR POL
ROME FOR MFO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KMDR KPAL KWBG KPAO IS
SUBJECT: JERUSALEM MEDIA REACTION (12/29): "Massacre" in Gaza
provokes anger with Israel, international community

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Main Stories:
-------------
The Israeli airstrikes in Gaza constitute the dominant story in all
the Palestinian dailies, with extensive coverage on their front and
inside pages. The entire front page of Al Quds is printed against a
black background, and the headlines of Al Ayyam and Al Hayat Al
Jadeeda are printed on black banners. The papers describe the
Israeli offensive as an "ongoing massacre," stating that
approximately 360 Palestinians have been killed and more than 1000
injured thus far, with more than 180 critically wounded. Al Ayyam
and Al Hayat Al Jadeeda run front-page photos of victims of the
Israeli air strikes, showing prisoners fleeing a Hamas prison
destroyed by a missile and a prisoner emerging from under the
rubble, as Fatah accused Hamas of abandoning Fatah prisoners in
prisons under Israeli attack. Al Hayat Al Jadeeda's front page
reports that two Fatah prisoners were killed by Hamas police when
fleeing the destroyed prison. The papers state that Israeli has
mobilized reservists and also report that "informed Hamas sources"
claim that captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has been injured in
the Israeli strikes. According to the papers, Israeli Defense
Minister Ehud Barak will allow 100 trucks carrying medical and food
supplies to enter Gaza today.

In Egypt-related coverage of the Israeli offensive, the papers claim
that Israeli military reporters have hinted at Israeli plans to
reoccupy the Philadelphi border strip between Egypt and Gaza. Al
Hayat Al Jadeeda's front page reports that an Egyptian border police
officer was killed by Hamas yesterday, and adds that PA President
Abbas condemned the killing as a "cowardly act." The papers devote
front page coverage to comments made by President Abbas after
meeting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak yesterday, quoting Abbas as
saying that what happened in Gaza was "avoidable" and that he was
seriously working to protect the Palestinians in Gaza. The papers
also front-page statements by Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah,
urging the Egyptian people to "go to the streets in millions to open
the Rafah border crossing to Gaza." The papers add that Egypt opened
the crossing to permit the injured to leave Gaza, but that Hamas
wouldn't allow them to leave, demanding that the Rafah crossing be
opened for normal traffic. On an inside page, Al Quds cites an AFP
report quoting the Egyptian Foreign Minister Abu Al Gheit
criticizing Hamas for not allowing injured Gazans to leave Gaza for
treatment in Egypt, which had dispatched ambulances to bring in the
injured Palestinians.
The papers provide front page coverage of demonstrations held in the
West Bank and around the world to protest against the Israeli
offensive. The papers report that two Palestinians were killed by
the Israeli military yesterday in the villages of Ni'lin and Silwad,
near Ramallah, in confrontations that erupted during protest
rallies. The papers also report that 15 Palestinians in Hebron, and
30 youths in Jerusalem, were injured during protest rallies. An Al
Quds inside page reports that Christians in Jericho cancelled
Christmas and New Year celebrations in protest against the Israeli
offensive. The papers also report on protest demonstrations held in
different Arab and European countries. An Al Quds inside page cites
a Reuters report quoting Vatican sources that Pope Benedict XVI's
planned visit to the Holy Land should not be cancelled despite the
growing violence in the Gaza Strip. Al Hayat Al Jadeeda's front
page cites an AFP report that President Bush is following up the
situation in Gaza and has been briefed by National Security Advisor
Stephen Hadley.
----------------
WEEKEND STORIES
----------------------------

JERUSALEM 00002294 002 OF 004


Sunday, December 28
The three dailies dedicate their front pages to the events in Gaza.
The main headlines appear in a large, bold font against a black
background and read: "The massacre - 230 martyrs and 770 wounded in
Gaza." The papers report that Israeli F16 and Apache warplanes
fired dozens of missiles in a surprise attack against the Gaza
Strip, targeting Hamas' military, police, and security
installations, as well as Hamas government buildings. Citing
Palestinian medical sources, the papers note that the total number
of Gazans killed could rise to 350, given the number of individuals
with critical injuries, the lack of medical supplies in the
hospitals, and the number of people still trapped under the rubble.
Among the Palestinians reported killed were the Hamas Chief of
Police Tawfiq Jabr, the governor of the central Gaza Strip, and
Ismail Al Ja'bari, the Hamas Chief of Security and Protection.
Meanwhile, President Abbas, the government of the Palestinian
Authority (PA), and the Palestinian leadership are quoted as
condemning the Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip and calling
for a national day of mourning and a general strike on Sunday,
December 28. The three papers report that President Abbas is
reaching out to Arab and international parties to discuss the
Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip and the means to end it.
President Abbas travelled to Jordan on December 27 to meet with King
Abdullah II of Jordan and planned to visit Egypt on December 28 to
discuss the issue with President Mubarak.

Al Quds and Al Ayyam report in length on angry popular
demonstrations that broke out throughout the West Bank on Saturday
in response to the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and note that the
protests led to confrontations with the Israeli army in a number of
cities, including Ramallah, Hebron, and Bethlehem. The papers also
note that confrontations took place between Fatah activists and
Israeli soldiers in different locations in East Jerusalem, including
the Shu'fat refugee camp, the Qalandia refugee camp, Dahyiet Al
Bareed, Ar-Ram, Al Issawiyyah, Salah Eddeen Street, Sultan Suleiman
Street and Az Zahara Street. Various Palestinian institutions and
political factions are cited as condemning the aggression and
calling for the Palestinian people to unite and overcome their
disagreements at this difficult time. In East Jerusalem, a general
commercial strike was observed in response to a call by the Fatah
movement in the city.

According to Al Quds, the Hamas leadership has demanded that Arab
countries sever all relations with Israel and has asked Egypt to
open its Rafah border with Gaza as a "practical" response to the
Israeli offensive. Hamas is quoted as declaring that "the
aggression will not weaken the Palestinian people, but rather will
reinforce their steadfastness and pride." The Hamas statement added
that "the Palestinian people will not accept only statements of
condemnation from Arab and Islamic regimes, when what we need are
practical steps and measures to end the aggression." Meanwhile,
Khaled Mishal, the head of Hamas' political bureau, reportedly
called for a new Intifada and the resumption of "suicide attacks"
inside Israel. Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas in Gaza,
reiterated in a televised speech on Saturday that the "Israeli
aggression will not force Hamas movement to give in, even if Israel
annihilates Gaza totally." He added that, "this ugly massacre will
not stop the expansion of the resistance and we will continue to
confront this arrogant occupation and its policies of deception."

Al Quds and Al Ayyam report that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad,
the current president of the Arab League, called for an emergency
Arab summit to take place as soon as possible, while Qatar
officially requested that the Arab League convene an emergency Arab

JERUSALEM 00002294 003 OF 004


Summit in Doha on Friday, January 2, 2009. Egypt reportedly
expressed reservations, and said that during the meeting of Arab
Foreign Ministers scheduled to take place on December 28 in Cairo,
the necessity for such a summit would be discussed.

Saturday, December 27

Al Quds and Al Hayat Al Jadeeda report that two young girls were
killed, and a third seriously wounded, in a mysterious explosion in
the Atattra neighborhood in the north of the Gaza Strip. The papers
note there was conflicting news about the nature of the explosion,
with some residents speculating that a locally made Palestinian
rocket might have hit the family's house by mistake. Israeli army
sources are quoted as denying any involvement in the incident. The
papers also report that Hamzeh Tayseer Shaheen, a reporter
affiliated with an independent news agency, died of injuries
sustained three weeks earlier in an Israeli airstrike.

Al Ayyam and Al Hayat Al Jadeeda report that Hamas militants
continued to fire rounds of rockets into Israeli territory, despite
Israeli warnings that it would retaliate militarily. As Israel
conducted maneuvers near the Gazan border and prepared for a
military operation in Gaza, it opened three crossing points on
Saturday to permit the entry of food and fuel. Egypt is reported as
boosting its security measures along its border with Gaza, fearing a
mass exodus of Palestinians towards the Egyptian border in the event
of an Israeli attack.

Al Quds and Al Ayyam note that Israel will launch its 2008 census
survey on December 28, and will include residences in East
Jerusalem. According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics,
the purpose of the survey is to compile a full and true picture of
people's living conditions, demographic characteristics, and
socio-economic conditions. The papers also report that the new mayor
of Jerusalem has established a special office to handle East
Jerusalem affairs, under the direction of Yaqir Segev, who heads the
media for the Settler's Council in the West Bank.

All three dailies report that scores of Palestinians were injured
when Israeli forces dispersed peaceful anti-wall protests in the
villages of Bil'in, Ni'lin, Al Ma'sara, and Jayyous. In Ni'lin,
dozens of settlers gathered at a military checkpoint located at the
entrance of the village, while soldiers fired rubber bullets and
tear gas against protestors.

Friday, December 26

Al Quds and Al Hayat Al Jadeeda lead with Israeli threats against
Hamas in Gaza. Israeli Foreign Minister Livni is quoted as
threatening to "silence" Hamas rockets. The Arab League's Assistant
Secretary General, Mohamad Sbaih, is quoted responding to Livni's
statements, saying that Israel offered nothing to the Palestinian
Authority, and instead continued its settlement activities, its
incursions into West Bank cities, and its "siege" of Gaza. Al Ayyam,
citing Al Arabiya TV, quotes Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as
saying that he was giving the Palestinians in Gaza one last chance
to pressure Hamas to stop firing rockets on Israel. The papers
report on Egypt's efforts to reach a ceasefire agreement between
Hamas and Israel.

All papers devote front page coverage to the sentencing of Ahmed
Saadat, the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine, to thirty years of prison by an Israeli
court. President Abbas is quoted as condemning the sentence as

JERUSALEM 00002294 004 OF 004


"unacceptable and unjustified."

Thursday, December 25

All papers lead with the killing of six Palestinians in Israeli
strikes on Gaza on Wednesday, December 24, as Palestinian militants
fired dozens of projectiles into Israeli territory. The papers cite
Israeli TV Channel 2 revealing that the Israeli military had
received the "green light" to launch an offensive in Gaza.

Al Ayyam and Al Quds cite a recent report by the UN Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs showing a sharp qualitative and
quantitative increase in Israeli settler attacks against
Palestinians, especially children and the elderly, in the West
Bank.

All the dailies run front page coverage of the death of Juma'
Ismail, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of
Palestine who was serving a life term in an Israeli prison.
President Abbas is quoted demanding an international investigation
into his death, allegedly due to "medical negligence."

The Al Quds economic page reports on a workshop held at the
Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce on December 24 to discuss USAID
private sector development projects. The head of the USAID
delegation highlighted USAID's efforts to create new jobs in the
Palestinian private sector.

------------
BLOCK QUOTES:
-----------------------

1) An Al Quds editorial entitled "A shame stigma for the
international community" (12/29) comments on the Israeli offensive
in Gaza: " It is a stigma of shame on the forehead of the
international community, the Quartet and the Arab and Muslim
leaders, who don't make a serious move to stop the [Israeli]
aggression and to side with our people in Gaza. They are the same
leaders who believed that it was possible to make peace with Israel,
so they proposed the Arab peace initiative, which Israel ignored....
As the Arab silence goes on, the credibility of America, Europe and
the Arab regimes collapses, and it becomes evident that what is
required is to have a wretched Palestinian people incapable of
saying "no" to anyone trying to violate their rights and dignity."


2) Talal Okal opines in Al Ayyam under the title, "A rational view
despite the dreadfulness of the massacre" (12/29): "The
international stand colludes with what is being done by Israel,
which prepared for its ugly aggression with a public relations
campaign, as [international] calls are limited to the logic of
appealing for a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians, as if
the matter related to equally strong parties. The American stand
was, as usual, the worst of all, as Condoleezza Rice condemned the
Gaza-based Hamas bombing of Israel, without making any criticism
against Israel.... The bet of the Palestinian citizens is to
consider this aggression an incentive towards making [internal
national] dialogue and ending internal divisions; otherwise, the
Palestinian situation as well as the Palestinian cause will suffer
more dangers."

WALLES

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