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French press review 19 November 2012

The situation in Gaza continues to make front-page news.


Le Monde analyses the Israeli response to the new level of threat posed by Hamas's long-range missiles. As air strikes against targets inside the Gaza Strip continue, the surrounding territory in the Jewish state has been declared a "closed military zone". That, says Le Monde, is never a good sign. Neither is the huge concentration of tanks and military equipment around Gaza, nor the decision to call up 75,000 Israeli army reservists.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

Libération interviews some of those military personnel who were whisked from their civilian lives over the weekend and now find themselves awaiting orders in the southern Israeli desert. The general tone is one of hopeless resignation.

"We'll invade Gaza. But what will we do then?" wonders one part-time soldier. The fact is that the Israeli army has already gone in a dozen times, without changing the fundamental situation. The last major incursion, at the end of 2008, resulted in the deaths of 1,400 Palestinians. Another unwilling volunteer says Israel and Palestine are condemned to act out the same ghastly dance, without winners or losers, just ever higher piles of civilian corpses. He'd like to see real peace talks, but wonders whether the interests of the Hamas leadership are not better served by the current state of siege. One could ask the same question of the Netanyahu government, but that's a different story.

Right-wing Le Figaro looks at the battle to lead the main opposition party, the UMP. Launched as an exercise in internal democracy, designed to increase the transparency of the selection and election processes, the power struggle has become bogged down in mutual accusations of fraud and misconduct by the two candidates, Jean-François Copé and former PM, François Fillon.

There's no crisis in the global arms market.

According to an article in Le Monde, heavy weapons worth nearly 30 billion dollars changed hands in the course of 2011. That represents a 24 per cent increase in arms sales over the four years from 2007 to 2011, compared to a similar period starting in 2002.

Asia is the fastest growing market, with India, Pakistan and South Korea the major importers. Russia and the United States are the big sellers, accounting between them for nearly two-thirds of global weapons sales.

Algeria is the only African country among the top ten arms importers, having spent 4.6 million dollars on weapons between 2007 and last year. South Africa is no longer a significant exporter of arms on a world scale.

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