“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, January 25, 2008

What Will Hamas Do Next?

Breakout into Israel' ahead

Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem | January 26, 2008

A SENIOR Hamas official warned yesterday that the next breakout from the Gaza Strip could be into Israel, with 500,000 Palestinians attempting to march towards the towns and villages from which they or their parents fled or were expelled 60 years ago.

"This is not an imaginary scenario and many Palestinians would be prepared to sacrifice their lives," said Ahmed Youssef, political adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.

Israeli minister Ze'ev Boim said the threat must be taken seriously in light of the successful Hamas breakout into Egyptian territory on Wednesday, adding: "We must learn from what has just happened there."

Egypt moved last night to end the great Gaza breakout, which had reverberated throughout the region as all sides tried to come to grips with its implications.

Egyptian security forces announced by loudspeaker in towns near the border with the Gaza Strip that it would be closed from 3pm (midnight AEDT), with an unknown number of Palestinians still in Egypt.

Riot police turned water cannon on Palestinians trying to cross into Egypt, despite Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak saying earlier that he would not allow the people of Gaza to starve.

Hamas, riding high on its operational success, sought to parlay it into political gain by seeking Egyptian approval for new border arrangements that would give Hamas for the first time a role in the vital crossing point at Rafah, between Gaza and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

Israeli security officials said Hamas and other militant groups had already exploited the breach in the border wall to send "numerous" armed men into Sinai with the aim of infiltrating into Israel along the long, largely undefended, border between Sinai and Israel.

The Israeli road running the length of the border was yesterday shut to civilian traffic and the army deployed reinforcements in the area.

The officials said the militants were eager to hit back at Israel for heavy casualties in Israeli attacks in recent weeks and that attacks from Sinai were likely to come within the next two weeks.

Israeli civilians on vacation along Sinai's Red Sea coast were advised to return to Israel for fear Palestinian militants would try to seize them as hostages.

Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilna'i said yesterday the breakout into Egypt was an opportunity for Israel to rid itself of its responsibility to supply Gaza with electricity and water and to serve as a channel for Gaza's imports and exports.

"When Gaza is open to the other side we lose responsibility for it," he said. "We want to disconnect from it."

Egypt, however, has made it clear it does not want responsibility for the troublesome strip, whose Islamic militants are ideological partners of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. It particularly does not want indirect responsibility for the rockets fired from the strip into Israel.

The crossing point had been closed since Hamas's seizure of the Gaza Strip last June.

If Mr Mubarak were to allow new border arrangements with Hamas that would permit a free flow of people and goods, it would violate Egypt's agreement with the international "Quartet" -- the US, UN, European Union and Russia -- for a border terminal without Hamas involvement and with cameras permitting Israel to monitor the crossing.

However, Mr Mubarak would find it hard, not least for his image in the Arab world, to be seen as party to a renewed siege of the Palestinians.

Israel says it will continue its siege until the rocket firing ceases, with an invasion of Gaza a likelihood if the rocketing does not cease.


Hamas challenges Egypt's bid to close Gaza border

Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:11pm EST

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - Egyptian security forces greatly reduced their presence along the breached Gaza border late on Friday after Palestinian militants defied their attempts to seal the gaps by bulldozing a new opening.

Thousands of Palestinians crossed unhindered from Hamas-run Gaza as the Egyptians pulled back, rushing to stock up on food and fuel and shop for other goods which are in short supply because of Israel's blockade of the strip.

Adel Salman, an Egyptian government employee who lives near the border point said he had seen truckloads of police leaving.

"Palestinian movement is passing through the gate without any opposition from Egyptian security forces," Salman said.

An Egyptian security source said the forces pulled back from crossing points after a security man was shot and wounded.

Tens of thousands of Gaza Palestinians have crossed into Egypt since militants blew up a border wall on Wednesday to get around a blockade that Israel said it had imposed to try to counter cross-border rocket fire.

The fall of the Rafah wall has also punched a new hole in a U.S.-backed campaign to curb the clout of Hamas and strengthen Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, nearly eight months after the Islamist group routed Abbas's Fatah forces in Gaza.

The Egyptian government faces a difficult balancing act.

It does not want to be seen as aiding the Israeli blockade, but is under U.S. and Israeli pressure to take control. It also fears the spread of Islamist influence and the effects of becoming home to so many undocumented Palestinians.

On Friday, Egyptian forces began placing barbed wire and chain-link fences to stop more people crossing. But Hamas militants, cheered on by crowds of Gazans, used a bulldozer to flatten sections of the chain and concrete fence.

Tensions flared at one point when Palestinians threw stones at Egyptian police, who responded with batons and water cannon.

The Egyptian state news agency MENA said 22 Egyptian security men were injured while trying to contain the crowd. Egyptian security sources at the border said seven security men were injured, 6 by stones and one shot in the foot.


Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in an interview to be published on Saturday, urged Hamas and Abbas's Fatah to end their differences and invited both sides to meet.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, speaking in Damascus, accepted the invitation. "I and all the brothers in the Hamas leadership welcome participating and will seek to make the dialogue a success," he told Reuters.

But a Fatah lawmaker in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where Abbas holds sway, said talks would be a waste of time as long as Hamas continued to control Gaza.

"There is a Palestinian consensus that Hamas should give up its control of Gaza and fall into line with President Abbas, without this the talks would be a waste of time," lawmaker Abdallah Abdallah said.

Abbas has sought U.S. and Israeli support to take control of all of the border crossings, a move Hamas hopes to prevent.

By challenging Egyptian efforts to re-close the Gaza border, Hamas hoped to win assurances from Cairo that it would have a say in any future agreement to oversee the border crossings, including the one with Egypt at Rafah, Hamas sources say.

Israeli officials said Abbas planned to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday, seeking support for controlling the crossings and for renewed peace talks despite the setbacks.

Citing the breach in Gaza's southern border, some top Israeli officials have advocated cutting Israel's remaining links with the coastal territory and putting the onus on Egypt.

Hamas sources said the group decided to open a new section in the border fence to increase pressure on Egypt.

Israel, which occupied Gaza in 1967, pulled out its troops and settlers in 2005 but still controls the strip's northern and eastern borders, airspace and coastal waters.

(Additional reporting by Mohamed Yusuf in Rafah, Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia, Egypt, and Cynthia Johnston in Cairo; and Avida Landau and Ori Lewis in Jerusalem; Writing by Adam Entous in Jerusalem; Editing by Matthew Tostevin)


  1. As predicted the Israelis next move

    Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilna'i said yesterday the breakout into Egypt was an opportunity for Israel to rid itself of its responsibility to supply Gaza with electricity and water and to serve as a channel for Gaza's imports and exports.

    "When Gaza is open to the other side we lose responsibility for it," he said. "We want to disconnect from it."

    If the Pali blow the Israeli wall and 100,000 plus women and children march into Israel, that's a wild move.

    Shoot them down?
    When the Palis used that tactic in a terrorist vs IDF firefight, the IDF backed down, as I recall. Did not fire on the women, allowing the terrorists to escape, covered and concealed by the women.

    A Peaceful protest, a Peace March to Ramallah, fired upon by the IDF would be a propaganda boon for the Palistinians.

    Bull Conners setting the dogs and fire hoses upon Civil Rights marchers would pale in signifigance. A new low point in Jim Crow comparisons would be reached. Ms Rice forever vindicated, support for Israel drying up in DC and across the Americas.

  2. You're right, it would be a nightmare. What should they do?

  3. In the days before the Intifadas, they used to be able to cross the border everyday as they went to their jobs in Israel.

    Even when they were sending suicide bombers they were allowed to cross for their jobs.

    Life is all about choices.

  4. Fistfights as Gazans clear Egyptian shelves
    Jan 26 03:51 PM US/Eastern
    Supplies began running out in Egyptian border towns Saturday after a four-day rush by hundreds of thousands of Gazans across the breached frontier, sparking fistfights and sky-rocketing prices.

    With the flow of goods and people continuing unabated despite a half-hearted attempt by Egyptian security forces to restore order on Friday, local governor Ahmed Abdel-Hamid vowed to help the Palestinians to buy what they needed.

    "Palestinians will continue to cross until they get all their needs of commodities and foodstuffs" in response to an Israeli lockdown on the impoverished territory, he said.

    Abdel-Hamid said he was coordinating with the social solidarity and industry ministries "to secure large amounts of commodities and products to meet the needs of the Palestinians in the country" because many shops had run out.

    Fighting erupted at a petrol station on the Egyptian side of the border town of Rafah as stocks ran out, and one petrol attendant was hospitalised after a brawl with Palestinians and Egyptians desperate for fuel.

    The petrol station owner refused to sell any more fuel, one of the most popular commodities to take back into the Gaza Strip, until security forces arrived calm the situation.

    Many of the cars waiting to fill up with petrol, now double the cost of three days ago when militants blew up the border fence, had Palestinian licence plates.

    Despite the governor's claims to be sending fresh supplies, retired Egyptian army officer Samir Mohammed Hassan said the authorities were blocking trucks.

    "We Egyptians in El-Arish cannot find anything any more because the Egyptian authorities have apparently given the order to stop all merchandise from getting through," said Hassan.

    "We're not unhappy that they're here, quite the opposite. But we also want to live and buy things at a normal price because the shopkeepers make no difference between Egyptians and Palestinians and sell their products at inflated prices."

    Building materials supplier Mohammed al-Sutari complained that the cost of cement had skyrocketed from 220 Egyptian pounds a tonne (36 dollars) to 300 dollars -- adding that the same product can be sold in Gaza for 500 dollars.

    "The taxi that we took before from Rafah to El-Arish (45 kilometres, 30 miles away) used to cost three pounds and now it's 150," he said. "We are stuck between the Israeli blockade at home and overblown prices in Egypt.

    "Where are the Arab countries that should have sent food aid immediately as soon as they heard the border was open?"

    Hanan Abu Zeid has spent 500 dollars in two days "only on staples, which will barely last a month," she said, adding that a sheep that cost 100 dollars on Wednesday now costs 250.

    Egyptian shopkeeper Sahar said that wholesalers in Ismailiya, 225 kilometres (140 miles) away, have raised the prices, not traders in Rafah. A box of potato crisps that cost 20 Egyptian pounds on Thursday now costs 30.

    Palestinians said that prices in Gaza itself were now almost back to normal, with a carton of cigarettes down from a high of 42 shekels during the Israeli lockdown now costing 10 shekels -- the same as before Hamas took over in June.

    "The shops here aren't helping us. Lots of them are exploiting us. Cheese that I bought for 50 Egyptian pounds a kilo on the first day (Wednesday) now costs 70," said Nahla Abdel Aal, a 43-year-old mother of nine.

    "The prices are nearly the same as in Gaza."

  5. If it were me, I'd let 'em march.

    Let them have their moment, the celebration. Close the stores along the route, close off access to other areas.

    Put Mr Abbas and Fatah police in the lead of the marchers, try to steal some of the Hamas thunder.

    Or open the gates, with Mr Abbas welcoming the Gaza folk into the Fatah "main stream" while he and his lead the marchers.

    The last thing the Israeli need is a confrontation, turning their "war" into a Civil Rights Campaign". Which is just what Mr Olmert knew and stated the Israeli would lose. They certainly will.
    The Palistinians playing the cards they've been dealt, just the way Ms Rice advised.

    It's a propagnda war, not a shooting one. Gotta be smarter than Hamas, superior fire power will not provide victory in the info battle.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Embrace the nonviolent legacy of Martin Luther King.

    Let Abbas organize the march in the other direction, from Ramallah to Gaza, with supplies for Gaza in hand.

    Announced before hand, opening the gates on both ends for Abbas and Fatah, the secular and legitimate Palistinian Government.

    Let Abbas "solve" the problems of Gaza. In a very public way.

  8. I wouldn't worry too much about the statistics, whatever the arabs care to make them.

  9. You are not the audience, mat.

    My wife is.
    Let the US public see the Palistinian women and children abused by the Israeli police & soldiers, that'll be the beginning of the end of US support for Israel.

    Kiss the US supplied artilley rounds good-bye.

    The Palis are taking the "struggle" to another level, if they take Ms Rice's advice. Making it a Civil Rights issue, with Israel in Bull Conners' role.
    It is a guarenteed sure fire Palistinian propaganda victory, legitimate, too.

  10. Non-violent Peace Marches with women and children in the lead.
    Civil disobedience, not combat. Something the Israeli are not prepared for, 200,000 Peace Marchers.

    Get Mr Abbas to lead the march, in the other direction. That'd steal the thunder. Or let Hamas carry the day. Which would be worse than giving Abbas the credit for breaking the blockade.

    Of fire on the women and children and lose the US as an ally. Doubt the Olmert and Peres Team would take that route, but ...

  11. Whit, let the election play out and then we will bump this up.

  12. "Kiss the US supplied artilley rounds good-bye."

    I don't think so.

  13. You do not understand the US, mat.
    An ongoing problem you have.

    Fire on women and children, on TV, Israel will lose all support, but the few million US Jews and the evangelicals waiting for Armegeddan.

    RAMALLAH, West Bank, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will ask Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to end a blockade on Gaza and accept his offer to control Gaza's border crossings, Palestinian officials said on Saturday.

    The two leaders are expected to meet on Sunday to discuss how to push forward with peace talks after Hamas breached Gaza's border with Egypt in defiance of a blockade that Israel says is meant to counter rocket fire from Gaza.

    Senior Abbas aide Yasser Abed Rabbo told Reuters the top issue on Sunday would be "ending the siege on Gaza" and removing hundreds of checkpoints in the occupied West Bank that he said amounted to a siege there too.

    Abbas condemned Israel's blockade on Gaza -- run by the Hamas Islamists since they drove his forces out eight months ago -- as collective punishment.

    "When you deprive the people of water, electricity, and humanitarian goods, even air, the people must explode, and they live in a besieged strip," Abbas said in a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

    Israel and the Palestinians launched their most serious peace talks in seven years at a U.S.-sponsored conference in November with the goal of signing a peace treaty in 2008.

    But Hamas's success in blowing up Gaza's border to led thousands of Palestinians stock up on supplies has further undermined a U.S.-backed campaign to sideline the Islamists and strengthen Abbas. Hamas opposes peace moves with Israel.

    To make Abbas the hero, that is the mission, or lose the propaganda battle, big time.

  14. Israel will do well to cut down any and all Jihadi that enter its territory, and do it without apology. If the propagandists don't like it, it will be for them to explain why.

  15. They will not have to explain anything, the video will tell the tale. Just as it did for Bull Conner. He was legally correct and lost Civil Rights War. He lost the US public with percieved savagery.

    You're right Israel can do what it wants, so can the US, in spades.

    Truth though, the last time the terrorists used women for cover, the IDF backed down. They did not fire. They still will not.

    Better find another way forward, mat.
    One that may work for your country, not against it.

  16. I do not know what the IDF will do or will not do, but I would advise the IDF to declare that kind of provocation an act of war and use American artillery to level the city.

  17. No, Mat, that is absolutely the wrong move at this time. Rat is right. The war is in a propaganda phase. The thing to do now, is let the Palestinians piss off Egypt.

    The war has been the Arabs v. the Jews but now that fundamentalism has reared its ugly head, the neighborhood is changing. Arab leaders are seeing the threat that Hamas and Hesbollah bring to everyone in the region.

  18. Well, we all have our opinions. Naturally, I believe mine is the most correct.

    If the proposed action puts a little distance between Israel and the US, well then, that distance was already there. I don't see any point in encouraging the Jihadis to push any further. Same applies to the US.

  19. The CPU that Intel built just for Apple

    You may have wondered how it is possible that the MacBook Air is getting a new Intel microprocessor - a processor that is so new that it has not been available for any other product. We actually have seen other examples of Apple being treated as a very special customer by Intel, such as the exclusive availability of the 3.0 GHz quad-core Xeon last year. A little investigation reveals that Intel actually did develop a processor for Apple and its MacBook Air. And, if you are aware of the background story, this special Apple chip makes a whole lot of sense for both Apple and Intel.

    On the face, of it, it might be hard to picture Intel as a custom supplier, but, believe it or not, that’s where the company got its start almost 40 years ago (Intel celebrates its 40th birthday this month).

    Intel has a long and varied history in the areas of the transistor, MSI (medium-scale integration), and LSI (large-scale integration) designs. This business has led the company to the memory business and back out again (and back in and back out again: If you look all the way back, Intel's first money making product was the 3101 Schottky bipolar 64-bit static random access memory SRAM chip). As a matter of fact, the company was in the process of exiting the memory business when the company was looking for other things to do with their novel and, at the time, controversial PMOS design that it used in the 4004 microprocessor, which was released in 1971.

    This 4004 CPU was initially designed just for a company called Busicom, Japan-based manufacturer of calculators. But Busicom went broke in 1974 and the 4004 became commercially labeled. There you have it: What is generally considered to have been the world’s first microprocessor really was a programmable 4-bit microcontroller that was tailored to a customer’s specific needs.

    But there’s also a custom element to the 8008, a microprocessor that was introduced by Intel in 1972: Luck always plays a factor in the success of any great company and Intel’s lucky break came when an up and coming company in San Antonio called Datapoint Corporation, originally known as Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC) was developing a highly integrated microcontroller in the early 1970s. The pioneering CTC was replacing the electromechanical communications terminals and minicomputer console called ASR 33 teletypes with a CRT-based all electronic stored program system, the Datapoint 2200 – at the time they called it a glass teletype. Datapoint developed the specifications for the first 8-bit microprocessor. And yes, you guessed it, Intel built for them what later became the Intel 8008.

    With these events, as well as the coincidental development of the micro-computer, Intel was provided with a path that eventually enabled it to grow to the giant company it is. In recent years Intel has not really been known as a company that listens to its customers particularly well, but this heritage plays a role in the market today and certainly has allowed Apple to get its hands on this powerful, small and low-power multi-core CPU for the Air laptop.

    When Steve Jobs asked his new best friend Paul Otellini if Intel could produce a super small yet powerful CPU for this notebook, Otellini apparently did not hesitate. If you look into the development Intel went through in the past two years, it becomes somewhat clear that Otellini has changed Intel into a much more customer-centric company again. Although he isn’t part of Intel’s founding team, he knew listening to customers and telling them a simple “we can do it” was what had made the company great in the first place.

    Intel and Apple also benefited from another bit of luck - Intel’s design lab in Israel. The Haifa team around Mooly Eden was busy trying to beat Transmeta in the super low power yet plenty powerful CPU game in the early years of this decade (and of course, they were trying to go after AMD’s technology advantage in 2005 and parts of 2006). They did it with the Banias chip, but Intel’s management at the time was not too receptive, mostly because the chip concept did not play along the Gigahertz mantra of the time.

    However, the Haifa gang was persistent and luckily, for Intel, they won the day. While the folks in Oregon were designing what was described as a nuclear power plant in a box in the early 2000s, Mooly Eden’s project went for the no-coulombs in a chip. They succeeded with the Pentium M (Banias core), which eventually ended up in the Core 2 Duo and a whole family of low-power powerful CPUs. The combination of competitive pressure from AMD, Haifa’s persistence, and a change in top management at Intel put all the pieces in place for Apple to win over Intel as a chip partner.

    Of course, you may say that AMD never had a different approach than just that. And if there is one company that has been known for listening to its customers, then it surely has been AMD. But from a perspective of resources, Intel plays in a different league and that provides additional opportunities.

    What Apple ended up receiving for the MacBook Air is a custom-built Core 2 Duo 9000 series, multi-core, multi-gigahertz, sub-25 watt chip in very compact package. And Apple got it exclusively until this fall: Later this year, Intel will make the CPU commercially available for other OEMs. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that other OEMs will probably come out with Air-like machines in a year and half, and - by then - Apple will have launched its next new trick. No doubt, Steve will call on his buddy Paul to help him out again.

  20. no need to use live ammo

    water cannons, tear gas, pepper pray rubber bullets

    just like those used in seattle, paris, london & all other areas of the world

    Please let the palios try to break into israel... please

    the problem rat, is that you seem to ignore the islamic black rockers violence and only can point to israel's reaction to it...

    no, sorry we shall not slit our own throats so that you can feel smug...

    in the end, as hamas is willing to do, many palios will die if they try to over run another nation..

    and the world, america? will not give a shit

  21. So "we" are now Israeli, are "we"?

    Here I thought you were a US citizen from Ohio, but evidently that is now no longer the case, if "we" are Israelis.

    Good to know where our loyalties lie.

    Bull Conner used water hoses, sticks and dogs.
    Won the battle, lost the war.

    Mr Obama proof enough of that.

  22. Dr: So "we" are now Israeli, are "we"?
    Here I thought you were a US citizen from Ohio, but evidently that is now no longer the case, if "we" are Israelis.

    Good to know where our loyalties lie.

    Excellent Dr, another false canard! that which is the "jew" loyal too issue!

    But why cant you just address the issue without trying to C4?

    Drat: Bull Conner used water hoses, sticks and dogs.
    Won the battle, lost the war.

    Mr Obama proof enough of that.

    wow... such playing loose with actual facts...

    this aint about equal rights of citizens, this is about an invasion of palestinians breaking into someone ELSE's country ..

    nice try again to distort...

    please keep the lies coming...

    I am sure those 40 wounded egyptian border police can feel your love...

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