Russia sends warships off coast of Gaza in response to Israel-Palestine tensions 27Nov12 November 27, 2012

Business Insider   -    24 November 2012
Russian warships have dropped anchor off the coast of Gaza in the case that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict escalates, a Russian Navy Command source told Voice of Russia.

The Russian Navy continuously monitors the situation and studies possible options for evacuating Russians, the source said.

The move mirrors what the U.S. did last week when it sent three warships to the coast of Israel to help Americans looking to get out of Israel.

The detachment of combat ships from the Black Sea Fleet include the Guards missile cruiser Moskva, the patrol ship Smetliviy, large landing ships Novocherkassk and Saratov, the sea tug MB-304 and the big sea tanker Ivan Bubnov.

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect on Wednesday. Since then a couple dozen rockets have flown into Israel and Israeli soldiers have killed one person and injured around 15 others near the border in Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces hit more than 1,500 targets during the eight-day Pillar of Cloud offensive. The conflict claimed the lives of 166 Palestinian and wounded more than 1200 while six Israeli died and dozens were wounded from rockets fired from Gaza.



Russian warships will be on standby in the eastern Mediterranean in case of need to assist Russians leaving Gaza, a source in the Navy’s high command said.
The Voice of Russia   -   24 November 2012

“A detachment of ships from the Black Sea Fleet has arrived in the designated area in the Mediterranean Sea and will wait for an order to evacuate Russian nationals,” the source said.

The Russian Navy monitors the ongoing situation in the area and studies possible options for the evacuation of Russians in case of the conflict escalation, the source said.

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas Islamist group came into effect on Wednesday. However, on Friday, Israeli soldiers killed one person and injured around 15 more in Gaza.

Palestine accuses Israel of violating truce

Palestine’s Liberation Organization has complained to the UN that Israel is violating the truce agreement between Israel and the Palestinian movement Hamas.

A statement released by Hamas on Saturday says that on Friday, Israeli soldiers killed a 20-year old Palestinian and wounded another 25 Palestinians.

The statement adds that the young man was taking part in a rally of protest against what Palestinians qualify as Israel’s aggression near a fence that separate the Israeli territory from the Palestinian one. An Israeli soldier shot the young man down when he was trying to hang Hamas’s flag on this fence, the statement claims.

However, a representative of the Israeli army says that the young man killed was one of a group of about 300 Palestinians, who were trying to break through the fence. Allegedly, before shooting at him, Israeli soldiers fired several times in the air, but this didn’t stop him.

The truce agreement between Israel and Hamas came into force on Wednesday.

Hamas accuses Israel of ceasefire violation

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri has accused Israel of violating the recently implemented Gaza ceasefire after a 23-year old Palestinian Anwar Khdeih was killed when attempting to hoist a Hamas flag on the Gaza-Israeli border.

Earlier, Israeli Army spokesman said that some 300 Palestinians, most of them young men, approached the fence on the border trying to damage it and even climb over. The Israeli soldiers fired at their feet.

Russia sends a detachment of ships to the coast of Gaza

Russian warships have dropped anchor off the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea to evacuate Russians in case the Palestinian-Israeli conflict escalates a source in Russia’s Navy Command reported Friday.

“The detachment of combat ships of the Black Sea Fleet, including the Guards missile cruiser Moskva, the patrol ship Smetliviy, large landing ships Novocherkassk and Saratov, the sea tug MB-304 and the big sea tanker Ivan Bubnov, got the order to remain in the designated area of the Eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea for a possible evacuation of Russian citizens from the area of the Gaza strip in case of escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict”, – the Agency’s interlocutor said.

According to him, in the course of military service the crews of the ships will continue their routine combat training, maintenance of equipment and weapons.

Israeli authorities arrest Palestinian parliamentarians

Friday, Israeli authorities arrested five Palestinian parliamentarians connected with the Islamist Hamas movement on the West Bank, the representative of the Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners Iyad Abdo said.

It is at least second night in a row that arrests on the West Bank continue. According to the explanations of the Israeli Army and intelligence services, it is the response to the recentbus explosion in Tel-Aviv and the Palestinians’ mass protests against the operation in the Gaza Strip, which ended with a truce Wednesday evening.

“According to our data, among the deputies, who were arrested on the night of Friday, there are Secretary of the Palestinian Parliament Mahmoud al-Ramahi and one of the leaders of the Hamas movement in the city of Hebron, Basem az-Zaarir,” a Palestinian officialsaid.

Israeli split over ceasefire agreement

According to an independent poll, Israeli are evenly split over the ceasefire deal that Israel and Hamas agreed upon Wednesday.

A Maagar Mohot poll released on Friday shows only 31% of respondents approve Netanyahu’s ceasefire decision.

49% of respondents feel Israel should have continued its military offensive against Palestinian militants in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

21% prefer not to comment.

The poll has involved 503 respondents.

A ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement which governs Gaza came into effect Wednesday night.

Under the deal, Israel agreed to end all hostilities and targeted killings, while Hamas would stop attacks against Israel and along the border.

Israeli soldiers have fired at Palestinian farmers in Gaza

The Israel defense forces servicemen wounded 15 Palestinian farmers and killed one in the Gaza Strip, press-Secretary of the health services of the Palestinian enclave, Ashraf al-Kedra said in an interview with the EFE Agency.

According to him, the soldiers opened fire from the Israeli territory at the Palestinians, who were in the East of the Gaza Strip. Israeli Defense has not confirmed this message yet.

China could play a ‘special role’ in the Middle East – Palestinian envoy

China could play a “special role” in the Middle East, a Palestinian envoy said Friday, following eight days of deadly conflict between Israel and militants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

Bassam al-Salhi, a representative of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, was speaking after talks in Beijing on efforts to upgrade his people’s status at the United Nations and maintain calm in the region.

A cease fire brokered by Egypt came into effect Thursday in Gaza — which Abbas does not control.

Al-Salhi, also general secretary of the Palestinian People’s Party, referred to China as a “broker” and a “mediator” after talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

He said Beijing could succeed where the United States failed in finding a solution to end hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians.

“We are very interested in the Chinese role in all the Middle East because the Middle East needs more efforts from the international community,” he said.

“They want to be involved (in the Middle East) and we are interested in them being more involved. A special role (for) China is coming.”

China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has voiced support for the Palestinian push for full state membership of the organisation. It has also called on the international community to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but not played an active role itself. Beijing has traditionally remained distant from Middle Eastern affairs, although it has begun to take a more active diplomatic role in recent years, wielding its UN veto power to scuttle some Western-backed proposals on Syria. China generally opposes what it calls intervention in the internal affairs of other nations.

Israel’s Cloud Pillar casualties reach 6

The Israeli casualties in the military operation against Gaza Strip militants have reached six.

A 28-year-old serviceman who was wounded before the ceasefire had come into force, died on Thursday night.

This is reported by the press service of the Israel Defence Forces.

A total of some 240 Israelis have been injured in the exchange of fire. 162 Palestinians died in Israeli bombing raids, both militants and civilians. More than 1,000 others have been injured.

Voice of Russia, RIA, TASS, Interfax, AFP, Reuters



US sends three warships to Gaza, says to evacuate Americans

First Post     -   20 November 2012

Washington: As tensions escalate in West Asia, the US has dispatched three warships to the region to be on standby in the event of a need, even as President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to world leaders in efforts to defuse the crisis.

Quoting unnamed Defense Department officials, the CNN said these three US Navy amphibious warships would be used only for the purpose of evacuation of Americans in the region in the case of escalation of the conflict.

The warships were not for any combat role they specified.

“This is due diligence. It is better to be prepared should there be a need,” an official was quoted as saying.

The ships are USS Iwo Jima, the USS New York and the USS Gunston Hall.

The crisis continued to divert the attention of Obama, who is currently on a South East Asia visit.

He spoke for a third time in less than a week to Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeking to de-escalate the tension.

“Following the dinner tonight, President Obama called President Mursi of Egypt. The two leaders discussed ways to de-escalate the situation in Gaza, and President Obama underscored the necessity of Hamas ending rocket fire into Israel.

“President Obama also offered condolences for the terrible loss of life in the recent train accident in Egypt,” the White House said.

“Obama then called Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, and received an update on the situation in Gaza and Israel. In both calls, President Obama expressed regret for the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives, and agreed to stay in close touch with both leaders,” the White House said.

The US wants the situation to de-escalate and is working with parties and regional players, State Department spokesperson, Victoria Nuland, told reporters at daily news conference.

“As we have said again and again, we want to see any leaders with influence use it to help the parties de-escalate. The Egyptians have been playing a leading role in trying to get this de-escalated. We’ve been supportive of those efforts,” she said.

“The most important urgent matter is to de-escalate this conflict on both sides including the fact that Hamas is still firing rockets into Israel,” she said.

Insisting that Israel has a right of self-defence, Nuland said: “We’ve been very clear that rockets continue to be fired and land on Israel. We’ve been very clear that we are working to try to get this conflict de-escalated”.

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