Booms heard in Tel Aviv area following warning siren

Three Israelis killed in Kiryat Malachi; rocket falls in Eshkol wounding 3 IDF soldiers as rockets continue to fall on South; IAF strikes nearly 200 targets in Strip; 15 Palestinians killed in strikes.

Two booms were heard following an air raid siren in Tel Aviv Thursday evening, just an hour after a rocket from the Gaza Strip exploded in an open field outside of Rishon Lezion. There were no reports of injuries in either strike.
The attacks mark the first time the center of the country was hit renewed violence from the Gaza Strip. The incident was also the first time that a real siren was sounded in Tel Aviv since the Gulf War in the early 1990s. Palestinian Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the rocket on Tel Aviv.
The rockets, among over 250 fired from Gaza into the South since the IDF launched Operation Pillar of Defense Wednesday to root out the terror infrastructure in the coastal territory, landed less than 15 km south of Tel Aviv. The operation began with the Wednesday afternoon targeted killing of Ahmed Jabari, the chief of Hamas’s military wing.

Earlier Thursday, three people were killed and two others injured in a direct hit on a Kiryat Malachi apartment building. Hours later, a rocket fired into the Eshkol region injured three IDF soldiers, two moderately.
MDA paramedics treated five wounded people at the site of the Kiryat Malachi attack, in which a rocket hit a four-story building. Three people were pronounced dead on the scene and two others were suffering moderate injuries, including a baby.
A house in Ashdod and a school in Ofakim near Beersheba also sustained damage from rockets on Thursday morning. Rockets also landed in the Eshkol Regional Council area, Gan Yavne and Ashkelon.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office stated the Iron Dome rocket defense system has successfully intercepted more than 80 rockets since the operation began.

A separate IDF spokesman confirmed that all Palestinian terror factions took part in rocket fire overnight Wednesday, with Hamas trying to take the lead.
He added that the IDF „believes the rocket fire will intensify.“ Tank fire also was directed at terror targets, he said.

Since beginning its operation, the IDF has struck nearly 200 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, including several terrorist cells preparing to fire rockets at Israel and medium-range rocket launchers located across the Strip.
Palestinian sources said that 15 people were killed in Gaza as a result of the IAF strikes, with more than a hundred suffering injuries.
The spokesman concluded by describing the Hamas-ruled Strip as „a forward Iranian base,“ and urged the populace to remain steadfast, as „home front resilience is vital for the continuing operation.“

Gaza-border communities were in lockdown, with residents ordered to remain in their homes if they live within 7 km. of Gaza.
Explosions have been reported as far away as Dimona, some 75 km. from the Gaza Strip.
At an emergency meeting in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, the security cabinet authorized Defense Minister Ehud Barak to mobilize reservists if needed.

The cabinet also agreed that the IDF should continue to act against terrorist infrastructure and activity in Gaza. It instructed the Foreign Ministry to begin a diplomatic public relations campaign to explain that Israel was acting in self-defense against military targets, as the continued rocket barrage had become intolerable.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke on the telephone on Wednesday night with US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. He was also scheduled to speak with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The prime minister thanked Obama and Biden for taking the position that Israel had a right to defend itself.
The military operation immediately increased tensions with Egypt, which condemned Israel’s actions and recalled its ambassador.

Tovah Lazaroff and Reuters contributed to this report

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Another Woman Reporter Attacked in Cairo

Egypt has been in relentless flux since last year, but the contempt shown towards women remains a constant. Sonia Dridi, a correspondent for France 24 TV, was attacked near Cairo’s Tahrir Square last Friday night, reminiscent of the sexual assault CBS correspondent Lara Logan faced in February 2011 while covering the celebrations in Tahrir over Hosni Mubarak’s ousting.

Didri and her colleague Ashraf Khalil had spent the evening covering protests in the square and were shooting segments a block away when a crowd of about 30 men cornered them and began to assault them.

“The crowd surged in and then it went crazy… It was hard to tell who was helping and who was groping her,” said Khalil.

Khalil said he protected Dridi by wrapping her in a bear hug, and eventually the two escaped in a car.

Dridi tweeted the next day that she was “more frightened than hurt” and later tweeted “Thanks to @ashrafkhalil for protecting me in #Tahrir last night. Mob was pretty intense. Thanks to him I escaped from the unleashed hands.”

The AP reports that there’s been an increase in attacks against women since protesters have returned to the square in recent months. There have been incidents of sexual harassment and even stripping women of their clothes in public.

Tahrir Square has continued to be an epicenter of unrest since Egypt’s revolution, and though Mubarak is gone, competing groups are jockeying for influence. Too often now, women professionals have become a target of Egyptian male aggression, reminding us that democracy means far more than just the right to vote, but the protection of all human rights.

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Feminist Guide to Horror Movies, Part Three: Worlds Without Patriarchy

Having covered films which reinforce the necessity of the patriarchy, and films which question its value while still punishing challenges to patriarchal norms, let’s look at two movies in which the patriarchy is almost entirely irrelevant.

British director Neil Marshall’s 2005 film The Descent is the most terrifying movie I have ever seen. Claustrophobes beware: The first half of this movie contains the scariest spelunking you’ll ever see on film, and that’s nothing compared to the ravenous underground creatures that appear in the second half–who may have been human once but evolved over centuries to suit their environment by having no sight but super hearing and smell. I think what scares me most about this film, though, is how perfectly it symbolizes the challenges faced by women who refuse to conform to feminine norms.

The film focuses on a group of professional women with a history of adventuring together who meet up in the Appalachian Mountains for a caving expedition. When things go awry, we learn that the leader of the group tricked her friends into entering an uncharted cave, and they are stuck without anyone in the outside world knowing where they are. And, oh yeah, there are monsters: agile, violent creatures that seem to emerge from the grief-stricken subconscious of the main character. The message is pretty clear: Hamstring your women friends and be prepared to be hamstrung yourself (and I mean that literally.) This movie is not about the triumph of the heroine but is rather a gruesome and vivid representation of the double bind: Never has being stuck between a rock and a hard place become so terrifyingly real. Check out Marshall’s film Dog Soldiers for a similar treatment of masculinity.

Though it was shot in 2006, Case 39, featuring Renée Zellweger and Bradley Cooper, was not released in the U.S. until 2010. (Never a good sign, and not surprisingly it got poor reviews.)

Zellweger’s character, Emily, a social worker, begins the movie by telling a moony Doug (Bradley Cooper) that, although she likes him, she’s just too devoted to her job to have a relationship. She takes on an extra case at work and becomes convinced that the new girl under her care, Lilith, is in danger. Emily saves Lilith’s life and attempts to place her in a foster home. When Lilith asks Emily to be her mommy, Emily replies, “I’m just not mom material.” But the persuasive demon child soon finds her way into Emily’s home, and from there things don’t go so well for Emily or for anyone around her. The movie ends with Emily driving her car–with Lilith in it–into a lake and leaving the child, transformed in its last moment into the primordial creature it really is, to drown.

I haven’t had a chance to see two currently playing horror films, Sinister and Silent Hill: Revelation 3D, but from their previews it would appear that they have a great deal to say about fathers, adolescent girls and the ancient curse that is the patriarchy. Some critics are claiming that “horror films have hit a new golden age.” If so, I hope to see more films in which women–win or lose–are free to fight their own battles.

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A Feminist Guide to Horror Movies, Part Two: It’s Not Just About Vampires

Since Edward Cullen first graced the pages of a young adult novel in 2005, vampires have been the sexy bad guys du jour. But it’s not just the lingering fear that sex might lead to death that makes these nightmarish manifestations of sexual desire resonate with audiences.

Gothic horror literature–which attracts audiences by allowing them to vicariously transgress sexual and social norms while also reinforcing the punishments that come with such transgressions–is a goldmine for contemporary filmmakers interested in exploring the sexuality of adolescent women. For example, the 2011 film The Moth Diaries, based on the 2002 young adult novel by Rachel Klein (who wrote the screenplay) and directed by Mary Harron, harkens purposefully back to the first vampire novel, Joseph Sheridan le Fanu’s Carmilla, and does little to counter the lesbian exploitation premise of either book. Intimacy between girlfriends–including one hanging out in a nightgown while the other bathes–is bathed in soft light, but two women having sex is a bloody, messy activity that leads to death. The movie also uses the Gothic trope of an innocent woman trapped by a sinister figure within a decaying castle to great effect: The architecture of the girls’ boarding school creates most of the danger, and the only male figure around is clearly untrustworthy. (Spoiler alert) The heroine triumphs. But this movie is even more sex-shamey than Twilight.

I am looking forward to Diablo Cody writing her horror movie about going to Catholic school, because in Juno she tenderly treats the ambivalent attitude towards teenage sex that she must have learned in that school. But in Jennifer’s Body (2009), directed by Karyn Kusama, Cody turns teenage sex into a nightmare. The small town of Devil’s Kettle serves the function of castle-in-a-remote-wasteland-imprisoning-young-women, where one of the women breaks free only by virtue of the death of the other. A lesbian kiss that wasn’t in the original script makes this film more exploitative than Cody may have intended it to be, but, like The Moth Diaries, Jennifer’s Body cautions us against trusting female sexuality.

In these two movies, the heroines conspicuously lack father figures, but typical Gothic heroines find themselves at the mercy of the very men they are called upon to trust. Silent House (2011), co-written and co-directed by Laura Lau, returns to the idea that patriarchal authority figures–even within our own families–might be the men who pose the most danger. The plot centers again around the house-as-prison metaphor: Sarah, played by Elizabeth Olsen (the far more talented younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley), becomes trapped in her family’s decrepit shoreline house with a sinister figure she assumes to be a homeless squatter. Reflecting the ambivalence with which our culture regards women’s place in the home, the film uses an ancient, secret tragedy to raise questions about whether the heroine is in real danger or is tricked by a tortured mind into believing so.

Gothic novels often dwell upon the fear that the sins of the fathers will be visited on their children. The House at the End of the Street, in theaters now, features a young man ostracized from his community because of his family. The fatherless woman hero (played by The Hunger Games‘ Jennifer Lawrence), shuns the cool kids and instead pursues this mesmerizing-but-off-kilter boy-next-door. Despite her mother’s attempts to protect her, she finds herself drawn into the characteristic Gothic hallways and secret chambers that contain the enigmatic ancient tragedy from which the boy has yet to recover. Sure enough, her instinctual sexual attraction is offered to titillate the audience, then is violently shut down.

With a little Gothic ambivalence, a feminist can at least enjoy watching the female heroes of these films defend themselves, but not without shedding a little blood. And The Moth Diaries, Jennifer’s Body, and Silent House are all written and directed by women. Perhaps that is why the decrepit hallways, doorways and secret rooms of these Gothic environments betray a cultural attitude that the patriarchy, though still in place, may not actually be good for women, and that isolating them from society might not keep them safe.

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