With negotiations for a ceasefire underway in Egypt, Hamas looks ready to strike even a bad deal with Israel to end the bombing of Gaza as the Palestinian death toll passes 1000. Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden raises his head to condemn Arab nations for not launching a counter-attack against Israel amid a continuing media ban on the Gaza Strip. Here’s the latest from the global newsroom:

Israeli rights groups seek abuses inquiry. Nine Israeli human rights groups called on Wednesday for an investigation into whether Israeli officials had committed war crimes in Gaza since tens of thousands of civilians there have nowhere to flee, the health system has collapsed, many are without electricity and running water, and some are beyond the reach of rescue teams. “This kind of fighting constitutes a blatant violation of the laws of warfare and raises the suspicion, which we ask be investigated, of the commission of war crimes,” the groups said in their first news conference on the 19-day-old war. — International Herald Tribune

Palestinian death toll in Gaza reaches 1000. The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza conflict climbed to more than 1,000 today after nearly three weeks of intensive Israeli bombing and fighting on the ground. So far, 1,010 Palestinians have been killed, among them 315 children and 95 women, Dr Moawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza’s medical emergency services, told the Guardian. The number of injured after 19 days of fighting stood at 4,700, he said. As Israeli troops fought on the outskirts of Gaza City after another night of heavy bombing and shelling, diplomatic efforts to end the conflict intensified, with the secretary-general of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, in Cairo for urgent talks. He is calling for an immediate ceasefire. — The Guardian

Egypt’s Gaza truce plan is mostly bad for Hamas. After 19 days of fighting and more than 1,000 Palestinian fatalities, the first significant signs that Hamas is breaking could be seen Wednesday night. Hamas representatives to talks with Egypt announced an agreement in principle on Wednesday to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal. They also demanded several clarifications, primarily from Israel. The Egyptian proposal is mostly bad for Hamas. It doesn’t let the organization bring the Palestinian public any political achievement that would justify the blood that has been spilled, and even forces on it the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, in the form of its renewed presence at the Rafah crossing (as a condition for its reopening). — Haaretz

Israel Shuts Out World Press. The Israelis have shut the world press out of the Gaza Strip, forcing journalists to rely on Arab media and informants on the ground. The situation is making objective reporting on the war close to impossible. Even two weeks into Israel’s Operation Cast Lead against the Palestinian organization Hamas no independent reporters are being allowed into Gaza. Director of Israel’s Government Press Office Danny Seaman has no qualms about making it clear that Israel wants to keep the international media out of the Gaza Strip. The reason is that the foreign press is biased, unprofessional, and falls too easily for the other side’s propaganda. His definition of professional, it would seem, is only putting out Israel’s version of the war. — Der Spiegel

Arabs undecided over Gaza summit. Saudi Arabia has called for an emergency summit of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) to discuss Israel’s ongoing war on the Gaza Strip, the Saudi foreign ministry has said. “Due to the escalation in the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, King Abdullah called for an emergency meeting for the GCC countries in the Saudi capital,” the statement on Wednesday said. Saudi plans for the summit in Riyadh on Thursday came a day after Qatar unveiled its own plan for an Arab League summit on the war to be held in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on Friday. — Al Jazeera

Osama speaks out on Gaza. Is anyone listening? With all the drama in Gaza, no one was paying any attention to Osama bin Laden. So the al-Qaeda leader tried to fix that with a new audio-taped message, criticizing Arab governments over their handling of the war and calling for jihad against Israel. But Bin Laden’s desperate attempt to capitalize on Arab anger over Gaza came several days late, and many dollars short. Despite his longstanding hatred of the Jewish state and rhetorical support for the Palestinians, bin Laden has never managed to rally significant support in Gaza or the West Bank. Even the role of sympathizer-in-chief has been usurped, by Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. — Time

Gaza: A pawn in the new ‘great game’. As Europeans watch the humanitarian disaster in Gaza unfold on nightly news bulletins, many may wonder why this crisis seems to have left their governments groping in such apparent fumbling disarray. The answer is that it is the result of policies pulling in opposite directions – of an acute irreconcilability at the heart of their policy-making. What has happened in Gaza was all too foreseeable. A few Israelis forewarned about this coming crisis, but the appeal of the “grand narrative” — of a global struggle between “moderates” and “extremists” — overrode their warnings to the Israeli electorate. — Asia Times

Good Morning from Gaza. Last night did not witness any changes in the air activities of surveillance and bombing by heliocapters and fighter-bomber F16s; targets were mainly homes of civilians. For example, in al-Nasser neighborhood, last night, at least 5 homes were hit by F16s! One of it was the house of the public relation officer of the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG). Also, other homes were targeted in Zietoun neighborhood! Last night, F16s missles landed in the Sheikh Radwan graveyard! I just wonder what other places they have in mind to destroy. Said Abdelwahed blogging at Moments of Gaza

Living in Gaza under starlight and bomb blasts. As big sister, I accompany two of my five younger siblings to the roof of our 14-story building. We head up there whenever we can, even if people say it makes us easy targets. We climb 13 floors of stairs just to stand and look out on Gaza and breathe in 15 minutes of air before we duck inside again. “Burning City,” the children call it. Columns of smoke rise from various locations in the distance changing the color of the sky and the sun. The entire landscape is transformed. We can make out the locations of several of the many public, residential and landmark buildings that have been turned to piles of rubble. Israeli tanks now block the roads where we used to drive along the coast. Dark, ominous warships look out of place so close to our beautiful Gaza shore, which had been one of the only escapes and source of relaxation for the besieged people of the Gaza Strip. Earthen barriers have risen in the Zatoun area, cutting off the densely populated, heavily bombarded neighborhood from the rest of the city. — Safa Joudeh blogging at Lamentations-Gaza

What Waltz With Bashir can teach us about Gaza. In America the war might as well not even be happening. The ongoing carnage is clearly passé. Yet in a strange case of art imitating life, at the same time that Israel is blasting a defenseless population enclosed in a tiny area, an Israeli film has appeared that depicts an earlier war in which Israel was complicit in an appalling massacre. America’s cultural gatekeepers have rightfully hailed Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir as a tour de force and cinematic breakthrough. On Sunday night, as Israeli warplanes carried out 12 bombing raids in Gaza, Waltz With Bashir won the Golden Globe Award for best foreign film. Most people who see Folman’s stunning film will probably not connect it with Israel’s current war. But if they dig a little deeper, they might realize that the film’s moral lessons apply not just to the terrible events that took place 28 years ago but also to what is happening today. — Salon

Get Crikey for $1 a week.

Lockdowns are over and BBQs are back! At last, we get to talk to people in real life. But conversation topics outside COVID are so thin on the ground.

Join Crikey and we’ll give you something to talk about. Get your first 12 weeks for $12 to get stories, analysis and BBQ stoppers you won’t see anywhere else.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
12 weeks for just $12.