As the conflict on the Gaza Strip enters a third week with no ceasefire in sight, the Israelis are claiming near victory while Hamas say the war has ended any chance of lasting peace. The rising Palestinian deathtoll has seen Israeli PR in tatters as some commentators call for sanctions. Others argue that the war is spreading further anti-western sentiment in the Middle East, eroding already tenuous relations and increasing the appeal of fundamentalist terrorism. Here’s what the global media is saying:

Israel is “nearing Gaza goals”. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Israel is nearing the goals of its military campaign in the Gaza Strip, as he signalled it would continue. He urged more patience and effort, as Israel’s troops reportedly engaged in fierce fighting in Gaza City. The Israeli army said reserve units were in place in Gaza, but this did not signal a “new push” against militants. Palestinian medics say 879 people have been killed during the 16-day conflict. Thirteen Israelis have died. — BBC

Israeli troops push into heavily populated area of Gaza. Israeli troops pushed into a heavily populated area of Gaza City from the south on Sunday in fierce fighting as senior Israeli officials said that they believed the Hamas military wing was beginning to crack and that Hamas leaders inside Gaza were looking for a cease-fire. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel told the nation Sunday that it was “getting close to achieving the goals it had set for itself” but that “more patience, determination and effort is still demanded.” — International Herald Tribune

Hamas: Gaza war ends peace process. Hamas has said that the Gaza war has put an end to chances of negotiations with Israel, calling on Arabs to pressure Tel Aviv to cease its attacks on the Gaza Strip. In a televised speech on Saturday, Khaled Meshaal, the exiled-Hamas political leader, said Israel’s offensive on Gaza, which has killed more than 850 Palestinians, had failed because Hamas was still firing rockets at Israel. “You have finished off the last chance and breath for settlement and negotiations,” Meshaal said. — Al Jazeera

Iran warns Hamas not to accept Egyptian truce proposal. Iran is exerting heavy pressure on Hamas not to accept the Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire with Israel, an Egyptian government official said on Sunday. The official told The Jerusalem Post by phone that two senior Iranian officials who visited Damascus recently warned Hamas leaders against accepting the proposal. His remarks came as Hamas representatives met in Cairo with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Gen. Omar Suleiman and his aides to discuss ways of ending the fighting in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas representatives reiterated their opposition to a cease-fire that did not include the reopening of all the border crossings into the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesmen said on Sunday. — Jerusalem Post

Enough. It’s time for a boycott. It’s time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.The world has tried what used to be called “constructive engagement”. It has failed utterly. Since 2006 Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon, and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade. Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures — quite the opposite. — Naomi Klein, The Guardian

Israel is losing this war. In this war, as in any modern war, propaganda plays a major role. The disparity between the forces, between the Israeli army — with its airplanes, gunships, drones, warships, artillery and tanks — and the few thousand lightly armed Hamas fighters, is one to a thousand, perhaps one to a million. In the political arena the gap between them is even wider. But in the propaganda war, the gap is almost infinite. Almost all the Western media initially repeated the official Israeli propaganda line. They almost entirely ignored the Palestinian side of the story, not to mention the daily demonstrations of the Israeli peace camp. Only when the horrible scenes from Gaza started to appear on Western TV screens, did world public opinion gradually begin to change. — The Progressive

Gaza conflict will shake the Arab world. The human cost of Israel’s decision to attack Gaza is being paid by the Palestinians. However, the fallout from this wanton violence is going to have long-term political consequences throughout the Arab world. The Israeli attack on Gaza is likely to bring to the fore political trends that up to now have remained just below the parapet of influence. The situation has brought the Arab world to an historic crossroads, where leaders will either move towards Arab independence from western policies, which is likely to be driven by popular grassroots support, or continue to toe the line of Israel/US influence. Much of this will be determined by the duration of Israeli attacks and the survival or demise of Hamas. — The Guardian

Professor Said Abdelwahed: The surrounding violence. My family and I have been surprised by the electric power for the first time after 15 days of utter darkness! It was a moment of excitment for the children. Now they are not scared though aircrafts are over us! Also, we can watch some TV channels as others are jammed. Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia are among the jammed ones. Now, a blast in the distance! Right now, I can hear sound of heavy machine guns from heliocapters! An aircraft has just hit three missles somewhere in the east of Gaza! Bombing from a tank right now! — Moments of Gaza

Peter Fray

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