ISIS has been signaling its designs on the Palestinian territory of Gaza. "The rule of sharia will be imposed on Gaza," an ISIS fighter announced in a recent video. And that means going after Hamas, the violent Islamist group that controls the Palestinian territory. Abu al-Ayna al-Ansari, a spokesman for Palestinian groups that have pledged to ISIS, told the New York Times, "We will stay like a thorn in the throat of Hamas, and a thorn in the throat of Israel."
Although there are many eloquent, courageous, inspiring and culturally creative Palestinians, none have managed to extend their influence as widely and deeply as Edward Said did, particularly during the post-Orientalism phase of his life, when he combined superb and seminal cultural criticism from a progressive standpoint with perceptive and influential commentary on the ups and downs of the Palestinian national struggle. My main focus will be to reflect upon Edward’s fascinating essay “On Lost Causes,” which combines intriguing literary assessments with his complex understanding of the Palestinian ordeal and destiny. This essay was one of his last major interpretive contributions, being the published form of a Tanner Lecture given at the University of Utah in 1997.
On October 22, Abdel Rahman al-Shaloudy plowed his car into a Jerusalem bus stop, killing a baby and young woman. A week later, a second driver mowed down another crowd, killing two and injuring a dozen more. A spate of knife attacks followed, in supermarkets, street corners and on roadsides, outdone only by a ghastly attack—carried out with meat cleavers, among other weapons—on worshippers in a Jerusalem synagogue. The day after the synagogue attack, the Israeli military demolished the al-Shaloudy’s family home, officially resuming a highly controversial deterrence policy that takes aim not just at terrorists, but their loved ones.
Palestinian officials said on Tuesday a Gaza ceasefire deal with Israel has been reached under Egyptian mediation and a formal announcement of an agreement was imminent. There was no immediate confirmation from Israel, where a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment.
Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinians on Saturday to halt fire and resume peace talks, but violence continued unabated with Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip and Hamas militants firing rockets at the Jewish state. A senior Egyptian diplomat said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had informed Sisi that Hamas was prepared to come to Cairo for further talks, but Hamas did not immediately confirm the report. Israel also had no immediate comment.
Hamas-led gunmen in Gaza executed 18 Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel on Friday, a day after Israeli forces killed three Hamas commanders, the highest-ranking militants to die in the six-week war. Militants wearing masks and dressed in black gunned down seven of those condemned, whose faces were covered and hands bound, in front of worshippers emerging from the Omari mosque on Palestine Square, in the first public executions in the enclave since the 1990s.
An Israeli air strike killed three senior Hamas commanders in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a clear sign of its intention to hit the group's armed leadership days after a ceasefire failed. Hamas, which dominates Gaza, named the men as Mohammed Abu Shammala, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhoum, the three highest-ranking casualties it has announced since Israel started its offensive six weeks ago.
Egyptian attempts to broker an end to a monthlong war between Israel and Hamas militants collapsed in heavy fighting Tuesday, with Palestinian militants firing dozens of rockets and Israel responding with airstrikes across the Gaza Strip. At least two Palestinians were killed. The burst of violence erupted in the hours before a temporary truce was set to expire. It left the Egyptian mediation efforts in tatters, and raised the likelihood of a new round of violence.
It’s time to wonder whether Israel and Palestine will ever be able to move out of the moral abyss into which they’ve plunged themselves, and address the threat of peace. “Threat” is the right term. Because peace is dangerous for leaders in the Middle East. It always has been. But back in the early 1990s, Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who hated everything the other stood for, knew that each had his reasons for working for peace. Just possibly, they imagined, peace would be better than war for future generations. Certainly it would not be as wasteful.
Several high-profile evangelical leaders will travel to Israel next week as a part of the “Christians in Solidarity with Israel” trip put together by the National Religious Broadcasters in response to the most recent conflict in Gaza. The Aug. 17-22 trip will include Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham and president of AnGeL Ministries; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; and Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in Matthews, N.C. “My prayer is that God’s people in this country and around the world would intercede for heaven’s involvement in Israel, that God would defend and protect her from her enemies,” said Lotz.
A three-day-old truce collapsed Friday in a new round of violence after Gaza militants resumed rocket attacks on Israel, drawing a wave of retaliatory airstrikes that killed at least five Palestinians, including three children. The eruption of fighting shattered a brief calm in the monthlong war and dealt a blow to Egyptian-led efforts to secure a long-term cease-fire between the bitter enemies.
Israel launched air strikes across the Gaza Strip on Friday in response to Palestinian rockets after Egyptian-mediated talks failed to extend a 72-hour truce in a month-long war. Egypt later called for a resumption of the ceasefire, saying only a few points remained to be agreed. Palestinian factions said they would meet Egyptian mediators later in the day but there was no sign of any imminent deal.
The outlines of a solution for battered, blockaded Gaza are emerging after Tuesday's tentative Israel-Hamas cease-fire: Norway is organizing a donor conference and Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas aims to oversee rebuilding and reassert his authority in the territory, lost to Hamas in 2007. Forces loyal to Abbas would be deployed at Gaza's crossings to encourage Israel and Egypt to lift the closure they imposed after the Hamas takeover.
In one of the Gaza offensive's many awful tragedies, an Israeli missile struck near a United Nations Relief and Works Agency school in Rafah that was being used as a shelter, killing at least 10 people. Israel was targeting three suspected militants on a nearby motorbike. In an interview with me last night on MSNBC, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness called for a full investigation, noting that the UNRWA had made 33 calls to the Israeli army telling them this school was being used as the shelter and making sure they had the precise GPS coordinates so that the Israel army knew to give it a wide berth. The last of those calls was put through an hour before the strike. The interview begins at 04:30:
The latest attempt at an Israel-Hamas cease-fire disintegrated Friday. After the capture of an Israeli soldier, the conflict edged closer to escalation than to peace. The soldier was "abducted" by Palestinian militants during an attack in Gaza in which two other Israeli soldiers died, Israeli military Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. The soldiers were decommissioning a tunnel at the time, Lerner said.
The Israeli military believes one of its soldiers was captured as a planned 72-hour cease-fire fell apart just hours into the deal, a spokesman said Friday. The lull in fighting collapsed in an early morning exchange of fire that left at least five Israeli soldiers and 40 Gaza residents dead.
Ten Palestinians were reported killed Monday when a missile hit a refugee camp here and nine Israeli soldiers died in multiple clashes as a major Muslim holiday brought no respite from tragedy in this troubled region. Fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants roared on as Muslims celebrated the holiday of Eid al-Fitr, marking the completion of month-long, dawn-to-dusk fasting for Ramadan. Hamas had agreed Sunday to hold fire ahead of the holiday, but even a strong statement from the U.N. Security Council calling for an "immediate and unconditional" cease-fire failed to keep the peace.
Israel and Hamas launched new attacks Sunday in the raging Gaza war, despite going back and forth over proposals for a temporary halt to nearly three weeks of fighting ahead of a major Muslim holiday. The failure to reach even a brief humanitarian lull in the fighting illustrated the difficulties in securing a more permanent truce as the sides remain far apart on their terms.
Fighting subsided in Gaza on Sunday after Hamas Islamist militants said they backed a 24-hour humanitarian truce, but there was no sign of any comprehensive deal to end their conflict with Israel. Hamas said it had endorsed a call by the United Nations for a pause in the fighting in light of the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, expected to start in the next couple of days.
With safe passage promised by a 12-hour humanitarian cease-fire, residents of the areas hardest hit in Gaza fighting returned to their homes on Saturday. They could not believe what they saw. Many roads were barely passable, and almost quiet. Women did not wail. The men looked stunned. Their neighborhoods were reduced to ugly piles of gray dust, shattered cement block and twisted rebar.