Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak with Secretary of State Rice, in 2007 – Barak today speaking of war with Hamas "to the bitter end." (Wikimedia Commons)
Jan 1 In Gaza, in the sixth day of what Israel considers to be a war to defend itself, Israel's airforce strikes the home of Nizar Rayyan, killing him and at least four other people. So far, Nizar Rayyan is the most senior Hamas leader killed in the war. He wore a military uniform, was a liaison between the group's military and political wings and had been calling for renewed suicide bombings against Israel. In 2001, according to the Israelis, he had sent his son on a suicide mission against them.
Jan 1 In Baghdad, military responsibility for the Green Zone formally passes from the United States to the Iraqi government. Prime Minister Maliki calls this the "day of sovereignty for which we have waited for more than seventeen years."
Jan 2 Demonstrators in the West Bank express outrage and express an ancient religious concept as an intended means of triumph against Israel's superior military machine: sacrifice. They chant "We will sacrifice our soul and our blood for Gaza."
Jan 2 Some who support Israel believe that sacrifice employed by Hamas includes a willingness to risk the lives of Muslim civilians by storing weaponry amid them.
Jan 2 Israelis complain that after they vacated Gaza in 2005, instead of launching economic projects Hamas launched rockets and smuggled in vast amounts of weaponry. Hamas, they complain, does not support the right of Israel to exist and has launched violence against their country. They believe that their nation has the same right as other nations to employ its military to defend itself. They see cutting the supply of weaponry to Hamas fighters as part of this defense.
Jan 3 Israel begins its ground campaign into Gaza. For Israel it is a showdown intended to end other than in a compromise that leaves Hamas in power. Hamas is also speaking against compromise, saying "we will not surrender or give in to your conditions." Israel had showdowns in 1967 and 1974, which they won. They had a war in 2006 in response to rockets being fired into Israel by Hezbollah from Lebanon, and ouside Israel there was much bewailing over civilian casualties in Lebanon. Hezbollah emerged triumphant, and Israelis now believe that their country's military response then was too weak, and they believe this should not be repeated.
Jan 4 Israel has begun a military occupation of Gaza. The occupation will better allow the Israelis to keep hostile weaponry out of Gaza and allow a flow in and out of non-military goods – the latter easing distress among the Gazans. The unknown is the extent or speed with which Israelis will be able to divide the Gazan populace from Hamas.
Jan 4 From Israel comes a description of the Israeli government and citizenry being opposed to a lengthy reoccupation of Gaza. An alternative mentioned by one observer – not an Israeli is an international occupation force. This question brings to mind the UN force that stood between the Egyptians and Israelis at the end of the Yom Kippur War of 1973.
Jan 6 Toxins from cigarette smoke accumulate in clothing, other fabrics and hair and can be ingested in dangerous amounts by infants, according to Professor Jonathan Winickoff Massachusetts General Hospital.
Jan 6 Baghdad police report that a female suicide bomber killed at least 35 Shia pilgrims, including 16 Iranians.
Jan 6 About the war between Hamas and Israel, Anne Applebaum, op-ed columnist for the Washington Post, describes current diplomacy as futile in ending the war. She writes that "[T]his war won't be over until someone has won."
Jan 6 President Bush declares protection for three areas in the Pacific that are under U.S. jurisdiction, totaling 505,757 square kilometers. It is described as the largest marine conservation effort in history.
Jan 8 On this the 13th day of the Gaza War more than 750 Gazans are counted as having been killed, 40 percent of them women and children.
Jan 8 Former President Carter claims that the Gaza War "could easily have been avoided." He suggests that Hamas tried to bargain in good faith but couldn't accept Israel's proposal to allow only 15 percent of normal supplies into Gaza. And so, Carter writes, Hamas resumed its rocket attacks. Israelis have a different view of Hamas. They see Hamas as ideologically opposed to the existence of Israel and, with help from Iran, bent on destroying it. They remember the former Hamas leader Nizzar Rayyan describing Israel as an "impossibility" and "an offense against God."
Jan 9 The imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca, Sheikh Saud bin Ibrahim Al-Shuraim, urges Muslim leaders "to do whatever is possible for the victory of their brethern in Gaza." A return to the Koran and Sunnah, he says, is a prerequisite for success. He links the "brutal crimes" of the Israeli forces to that of the Crusaders of the Middle Ages and he speaks of the failure of international institutions "to protect Muslims and their rights."
Jan 10 A comment on a Muslim website, reformislam.org, about anti-Israel protests throughout the Muslim world, reads: "Somebody please call us the day a similar protest is held against al Qaeda's mass murder of Muslims in Iraq or Pakistan."
Jan 11 Sixty Minutes reviews the steep rise in the price of oil and its fall last year. Back then, some economists and others were ignoring figures and blaming supply and demand. Some were blaming the Saudis for the rise. Sixty Minutes portrays the rise largely as Saudi King Abdullah had described it, as speculation. The rise in demand was for profits from rising oil prices. The expectation of profits evaporated when the bubble burst.
Jan 11 The Israeli Defense Force categorically denies, with detail, the accusation that it is using white phosphorus. White phosphorus in bombs and shells produces serious burns or death.
Jan 13 Hillary Clinton describes Obama's position on Hamas versus Israel: "I think on Israel, you cannot negotiate with Hamas until it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and agrees to abide by past agreements. That is just for me, you know, an absolute. That is the United States government's position; that is the president-elect's position." A lot of people are entering disappointment with Obama and his Secretary of State, HIllary Clinton, among them, Phyllis Bennes, a left-of-center writer. Apparently referring to Hillary rather than Hamas, she complains on the NewsHour about the need to change "the mindset" that leads to war.
Jan 13 Germany's center-right government led by Angela Merkel has unveiled an economic stimulus package worth about $67 billion. The package includes investments for railways, roads and schools and tax relief.
Jan 15 Pakistan Interior Ministry announces cooperation with India against the "common enemy" of terrorism. It says that it has moved against those suspected of being behind the Mumbai attacks of last November. It claims that among other actions taken it has closed web sites, training camps and has detained 71 people.
Jan 18 Israel declares a cease-fire and says it will continue to occupy Gaza militarily and retaliate against any attack. Hamas responds at first by announcing that it will continue fighting as long as Israeli troops occupy Gaza. Then it announces a one-week cease-fire to give Israel an opportunity to withdraw.
Jan 18 Wars have been the product of widespread attitude. Today, most Israelis support their military's occupation of Gaza and readiness to retaliate against any attack. Also today a Palestinian in the West Bank who supports Hamas, tells the BBC, "I am so happy because in the end we won." A Palestinian student in Jerusalem tells the BBC that "it is our land and Hamas must defend it."
Jan 18 Fareed Zakaria characterizes George Bush's "single most significant bad decision" during his presidency as his tax cut. "Rather than pay down debt and save in good times for the inevitable bad times, Bush squandered it all so that all of us – particularly high income earners – could indulge in a bit more consumption." Bush, of course, believed that the tax cut would stimulate economic growth and create more tax revenue.
Jan 20 The Israeli government has changed its mind. It began pulling its military out of Gaza yesterday, and the last of its troops are scheduled to be out today, coinciding with a demand by Hamas that they withdraw.
Jan 20 Barack Hussein Obama II is inaugurated the forty-fourth president of the United States.
Jan 21 According to a Wikipedia reprint of a report in Pakistan's News, in areas of the Pakistani state of Swat controlled by Taliban militants, "Some 400 private schools enrolling 40,000 girls have been shut down. At least 10 girls' schools that tried to open after the January 15, 2009 deadline by the Taliban were blown up by the militants in the town of Mingora, the headquarters of the Swat district." The Taliban militants have been at war with Pakistan's central (federal) government since 2007.
Jan 21 In Gaza, Hamas reasserts political control and is rounding up political opponents – backers of the more moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas – and accusing them of having colaborated with Israel.
Jan 21 An article in the New York Times reports that in Gaza Israeli soldiers destroyed the farming village of Juhr el Dik. The houses were flattened by bulldozers and tanks. The livelihood of the area, olive trees, were also flattened. It takes twenty years for regrowth. Israelis claim that Hamas fired on them from the area. Villagers say they had no close relations with Hamas, that Hamas drove in, fired a rocket and left.
Jan 21 Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk show host and respected intellectual leader of the Republican Party in years past, takes issue with fellow Republicans who say they support President Obama. Limbaugh describes himself as "a thinker" and too many others as emotional in their belief in or support for Obama. He tells fellow conservative Sean Hannity that he is worried that Obama will ruin the U.S. by giving the government too large of a role in the economy, with "many people thinking that just because they're Americans they're entitled to things." He says that his critics will complain that he "is not with the program."
Jan 22 Italy's eminent newspaper, Corriere della Sera, reports that Hamas forced people to stay in homes from which they shot at Israeli soldiers. A Hamas soldier is described as shouting to fellow Gazans: "Cowards, the soldiers of the holy war will punish. And in any case all will die, like us. Attacking the Jewish Zionists we are all destined for paradise. Are you unhappy that we die together?"
Jan 25 Hamas representative Usama Hamadan speaks of the ability to get weapons into Gaza during the peak of the war, under shelling. "It's our right to have weapons," he says. "We will continue bringing weapons into Gaza and the West Bank. No one should think that we will surrender."
Jan 25 The Vatican condemns President Obama's move to restore funding for family planning clinics abroad. It is referring to Obama's repeal of a policy that was begun by President Reagan in 1984, rescinded by President Clinton in 1993, and reinstated by President Bush in 2001. That policy required nongovernmental organizations that receive federal funds to refrain from performing abortions or citing abortion services offered by others.
Jan 25 Police in Nigeria jail a goat believed to be an armed robber who transformed himself through witchcraft. The belief in witchcraft is reported as common in Nigeria.
Jan 28 In Sweden, a woman talking on a cell phone and walking on a railway track center divide fails to notice an approaching highspeed train and is killed. In the United States, cell phones are described as a major factor in car accidents and incidents.
Jan 29 In French cities huge crowds take to the streets. A nationwide strike disrupts rail and air services. People are unhappy about bank bailouts and believe they are paying, literally, for a crisis they are not responsible for.
Jan 30 In Zimbabwe, after four months of effort, a "unity government" is agreed to. Morgan Tsvangira of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is scheduled to become prime minister in twelve days. South Africa, who helped broker the agreement, is committed also to help with Zimbabwe's recovery. Meanwhile, cholera deaths surpass 3,100 and the number of people infected with cholera has reached 60,000.
Jan 31 In recent days a few attacks from Gaza have been made on Israel, perhaps by rogue elements.The month ends with the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert having claimed the Gaza war a success because it wounded Hamas. Hamas, as he sees it, has been punished, as if that were the purpose of the war rather than the fight to the finish first proclaimed. Some Israelis see the war as a failure. Meanwhile, a report today indicates that, back in December, Hamas in Gaza objected to its leadership in Lebanon not extending the six-month truce.
Jan 31 Protest rallies erupt in cities across Russia, supported by Russia's Communist Party. Some outside Russia are blaming the United States for the global economic crisis. The protestors in Russia are blaming Putin and want him to step down. Police break up demostrations.
Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.