Sunday, January 20, 2008

Iran calls for emergency OIC meeting to discuss the bloodbath in Gaza

Tehran Times Political Desk

TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki has called on the Jeddah-based Organization of the Islamic Conference to hold an emergency meeting at the foreign ministers level to discuss the Zionist regime’s recent crimes in Gaza.

Mottaki sent a letter to OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu on Sunday which condemned the ongoing violence and atrocities in Gaza. It was delivered by Iran’s envoy to the OIC, Mostafa Borujerdi.

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has also consulted with Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whose country currently chairs the 57-nation OIC, and emphasized the necessity of holding the emergency meeting.

Israel has escalated operations in Gaza, killing at least 36 Palestinians since Tuesday in the biggest flare-up of violence since Hamas took power in the area.

The Zionist regime announced a complete closure of the Gaza Strip on Thursday.

On Saturday, Ihsanogulu condemned Israel’s attacks on Gaza and urged the United Nations to intervene to stop the bloodshed in the impoverished territory.

He accused the Israeli military of “committing successive massacres in the Gaza Strip in which civilians were killed,” AFP reported.

Israeli terrorism will lead to new Intifada

The escalation of the Zionist regime’s terrorist acts and the illegal dissolution of the Hamas government will lead to a new Intifada, Iranian MP Reza Talaii-Nik said on Sunday.

Analysts say that after the U.S. president’s tour of the Middle East, Tel Aviv was given the green light to intensify its collective punishment of Palestinians.

“In fact, U.S. President George W. Bush prepared the entire psychological and political foundation for the severe repression of the Palestinians, and left the rest of the work to the Zionists,” Talaii-Nik, who sits on the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, told the Mehr News Agency.

MP Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh told MNA that the U.S. is facilitating the realization of Israel’s strategic objectives in the region.

“Whenever Washington has increased its support of Israel, the regime has immediately increased its brutal massacres of Palestinians,” noted Falahatpisheh, who is also a member of the security committee.

Arab League to hold emergency meeting on Israeli raids in Gaza

The Arab League Council will hold an emergency meeting later today on the ongoing Israeli military actions in the Palestinian territories, a senior official of the Cairo-based Arab bloc said on Sunday.

The meeting at the level of permanent delegates is being held at the joint request of the Arab League and the Palestinian National Authority, Arab League Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs Ahmed ben Heli was quoted as saying by Egypt’s MENA news agency. The meeting, to be attended by Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, will cover the latest developments in Gaza and Israel’s continued attacks in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, said Heli. UN rights official slams ‘cowardly Israeli war crime’ in Gaza

Israel’s targeting of a Hamas government office, which caused serious casualties at a nearby wedding party, was a “war crime”, and those responsible should be punished, a United Nations official said Saturday, AFP reported from Geneva.

John Dugard, UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories, also slammed the killing of Palestinians in other attacks and the closing of border crossings.

“The killing of some 40 Palestinians in Gaza in the past week, the targeting of a government office near a wedding party venue, (which)… must have foreseen loss of life and injury to many civilians, and the closure of all crossings into Gaza raise very serious questions about Israel’s respect for international law and its commitment to the peace process,” Dugard said in a statement.

“Recent action violates the strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention,” Dugard charged in the statement put out by the UN human rights commission.

“It also violates one of the basic principles of international humanitarian law that military action must distinguish between military targets and civilian targets.”

He said that “Israel must have known” about the wedding party in the Gaza Strip near to the Interior Ministry when it launched missiles at the ministry building on Friday.

The massive air strike destroyed the former Interior Ministry building in Gaza City, now abandoned, sending a tide of shrapnel crashing against adjacent apartment buildings and killing a 47-year-old woman.

Around 50 people were wounded in the blast, including several children. At least 30 of the victims had been attending the wedding party near the building.

“Those responsible for such cowardly action are guilty of serious war crimes and should be prosecuted and punished for their crimes,” Dugard said.

The United States and other participants in the Annapolis conference in November to relaunch the Middle East peace process “are under both a legal and a moral obligation to compel Israel to cease its actions against Gaza and to restore confidence in the peace process, ensure respect for international law and protect civilian life,” he said.

Gaza power plant begins shutting down

Gaza’s main power plant began shutting down on Sunday due to a fuel shortage caused by Israel’s closure of the Hamas-controlled territory’s borders, a move taken in response to Palestinian rocket attacks, Reuters reported.

The impact could be seen in many of Gaza’s buildings, where lights were out and elevators stopped working.

Stores in the impoverished territory, home to 1.5 million people, were running out of goods because of a surge in demand and lack of supply. Gas stations have been shuttered because of Israeli cuts in petrol and diesel delivery.

“People are shopping feverishly, fearing products will vanish from the shelves soon,” said Jihad Abu Anwar, a grocery store owner. Turning to a customer, he said: “No candles.”

Kanaan Abeid, deputy chairman of the Palestinian Energy Authority in the Gaza Strip, said the power plant turned off one of its two turbines and the second would stop in the evening.

“There is no fuel coming in and we have no reserves,” Abeid said. He estimated as many as one million Gaza residents would be affected by the full shutdown.


On Friday, Israel tightened its Gaza border closure, shutting all crossings to even UN humanitarian supplies.

The Hamas-appointed Health Minister, Basim Naeem, said an already crumbling health system was in danger of collapsing and patients’ lives were increasingly at risk due to the fuel cuts.

“Such methods have failed in the past to weaken the determination and steadfastness of our people,” Hamas said in a statement.

Officials with the European Union, which funds fuel shipments to the Gaza plant, confirmed one of the turbines had been shut down and that it was operating at about half-capacity.

“After two months of reductions, they’re very low on fuel. It’s only a question of hours,” said a senior EU official involved in the fuel program.

The EU official said the last EU-funded fuel shipment was made on Thursday and no fuel was allowed in on Sunday.

Gazans ordinarily consume 200 megawatts of electricity, of which 65 are produced by the local power plant. The rest comes from Israel and Egypt.

“It is going to have a significant impact on the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza,” said Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose aid shipments have been turned back