Tag Archives: Gaza Strip

Gaza Rockets Fall On Israel, Israel Bombs Fall On Gaza

Israel prime Minister Ehud Olmeert vowed there will be an end to Kassam rocket fire from gaza or else. “We are not looking to fight in the Gaza Strip, we do not want to harm its residents and we have no special desire to kill any citizen. But, we will not and we cannot continue to suffere the endless Kassam rocket fire on cititizens of the st ate of Israel.” Foreign Minister Tzipi Livi argued Israel could defend its citizens not only through negotiations but by means of “uncompromising war” against Palestine attacks from Gaza. Earlier yesterday, Vice Premier Haim Ramon claimed Israel military action was beginning to have an impact and that Hamas leaders were now more interested in negotiations. A senior Hamas official was quoted by Israel radio on Wednesday as indicating a desire on the part of the Hamas government of Ismail Haniyeh to halt Kassem rocket fire.

A continual mistake on the part of Israel and other nations is failure to engage Hamas in a dialogue. The demand that all terrorist activity should cease prior to talks makes no sense. Once people are engaged in discussions they are more prone to consider the effect of ending terrorist activities. When all is said and done, Hamas does need to become part of a political process if it is to survive. The people of Gaza need some peace and that will only occur if Hamas talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Rockets, Rifles, And Dead People

Palestinians, belonging to the splinter Islamic terrorist group, sent a Katyusha rocket toward the city of Ashkelon which represented the largest rocket to hit an Israel community. The Israel Defense Force responded with air and ground level operations that resulted in the death of Hamas militants and civilians caught in the cross fire. The attack on a major Israel city was bound to initiate a strong reaction since no Israel leader can allow such attacks to go on without a strong reaction. Eleven Palestinians are dead, including two Hamas officials.

There is now emerging within Israel the rise of groups which will demand a land invasion of Gaza and, in so doing, wreck any opportunity for peace. This is the old pattern, push the other side to take some strong military action and the result will be to destabilize any opportunity for peace. A powerful Israel thrust into Gaza will compel the Palestinian Authority to end peace negotiations. Obviously, this is the aim of the militants behind the rocket attacks, they do not want peace.

Perhaps, it is time to ask Egyptian troops to enter Gaza and begin enforcing peace upon militant groups. Unless something is done, the prospects for peace diminish by the day. It is also important to get Hamas to the negotiating table and avoid having them linger on the outside away from assuming any responsibility for peace

Tensions Remain Active In Middle East Amidst Bombings

Prime Minister Olmert made a special trip to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah to discuss the growing tensions created by rocket bomb attacks on Israel from Muslim militants and Israel bombing of Gaza Strip targets. King Abdullah urged Israel to stick to the Annapolis Conference road map and halt further building on the West Bank. He emphasized, “halt unilateral activities that may obstruct progress.” The Hamas authorities have done little to halt rocket attacks and as each side bombs, the other feels the need to retaliate. Israel is concerned that a recent rocket attack included a longer range Katyusha which landed in an Israel city. There is little doubt any further such bombings will result in a massive Israel response.

Up to this point, the Bush, Abbas, and Olmert approach has been to ignore Hamas as a peace factor. Hamas stands on the sideline creating problems by allowing rocket launches. One solution might be to involve Hamas in peace negotiations. At this point, since ignoring them has not changed anything, what is to be lost by trying another approach which actively engages the group in a peace process?

Israel And Egypt Clash Over Pilgrims

The return of thousands of Muslim pilgrims who had made the trip to Mecca and were trying to re-enter Gaza has created a diplomatic crisis between Egypt and Israel. The Egyptian government originally said the pilgrims had to re-enter at the Kerem Shalom crossing which is under Israeli control, but yesterday they changed their minds and allowed the two thousand to cross over in Gaza at a different check point. The Israel authorities claim there were several key Hamas military leaders hidden in the crowd and they were bringing in millions of dollars collected while in Saudi Arabia.

Accusations are flying back and forth between the two nations. Perhaps, lost in the acrimonious exchange is a more fundamental issue– how does the peace process involve Hamas? Israel refuses any relationship with Hamas and President Abbas will not work with that group until it restores Gaza to control of his Fatah. Perhaps, it is time for all sides to involve Hamas and get them talking rather than remaining on the outside as troublemakers. Of course, there is an irony in the situation– Hamas collected money while in Saudi Arabia, one of America’s key allies.

Hamas Offer Of Cease-Fire Creates Conflict In Israel

A Hamas offer to enter negotiations with Israel over issues related to the Gaza Strip and rocket attacks on Israeli civilians received a mixed reaction from members of the Israel government. transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz indicated a willingness to have “mediation” talks in an effort to halt rocket attacks on Israel citizens. However, President Peres and members of the right wind Likud were furious at his suggestion of mediation. Peres termed the offer by Hamas prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a “pathetic and misleading attempt to divert attention away from the crimes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.” Likud leaders argued that Hamas would use the time spent in discussions as a means of resupplying themselves with additional weapons and rockets.

President Peres attended a meeting called by Turkey’s President Gul to meet with the president of the Palestinian Authority, Abbas. This indicates Peres has trust in the good offices of Turkey. Why not ask Turkey to be the mediating party that brings together Israeli and Hamas leaders. Israel could even make as a precondition of such talks that Turkish soldiers be permitted to enter the Gaza Strip to ensure that no weapons were being smuggled in to resupply Hamas. As of this date, there is no indication the Israel strategy of meeting force with even greater force has halted rocked attacks. Isn’t it time to attempt new strategies?

Hamas Warns Israel Of Resistance In Gaza

The war of words in the Middle East escalated as leaders of Hamas told cheering crowds in the Gaza Strip that Israel would meet a defeat if its troops invaded the Gaza Strip. “The IDF’s withdrawal,” said Hamas leader Mushair al Masri, “from the Gaza Strip will become a graveyard for its troops.” Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh attacked any nation or group which supports the existence of Israel as an insult to Allah and boasted he was ready to lead a third of fourth intifada against Israel. In the meantime, Israel leaders were warning any invasion of the Gaza Strip must not result in damage to the authority of the Fatah led government of President Abbas.

It is relatively easy for Hamas leaders to boast and promise death and destruction, the only problem is that an Israel invasion of Gaza will result in death and destruction to many people, including hundreds of Palestinians. Hamas is long on rhetoric and short on offering positive solutions to problems besetting the Palestinian people. Israel and the United States insist not recognizing the existence of Hamas nor engaging in discussions with its leaders will somehow damage the organization. There is scant evidence such an occurrence is happening. Not talking with Hamas allows its leaders to shout defiance to the wind and to adoring crowds, but forcing them to discuss and negotiate will reduce verbal attacks and make its leaders deal with the presence of other Arab leaders who are not impressed by the shouting that goes over so well with crowds.

Israel Gaza Attack Would Ruin Peace Claims Palestinians

Palestinian authorities told the Jersualem Post that any massive attacks by israeli forces on Gaza would seriously damage any efforts to attain peace. They warned such actions would compel the Palestinian Authority to call off scheduled talks with Israel as a follow up to the Annapolis Conference. Meanwhile, Kadoura Fares, a top Fatah operative in the West Bank, confirmed his faction would fight alongside Hamas forces to resist Israel troops. “Fath will fight alongside all the palestinian groups against the Israel army when it invades the Gaza Strip. In such a case, Hamas won’t be left alone in the confrontation with Israel.”

Palestinian authorities have informed the United States they would not be able to sit at a negotiating table if Israel troops are fighting in Gaza. The path to peace is strewn with potholes and detours as was encountered by those who resolved the Irish conflict or for white Europeans who negotiated with Nelson Mandela. As one Palestinian official noted, “In the post Annapolis era, we are supposed to talk about ways of making peace, instead, here we are talking about preparations for the next war.” The announcement by the Olmert government of further construction of housing in the West Bank is another example of confusion in the Israel government regarding how it intends to confront peace negotiations. Expanding West Bank settlements or pondering invasions of the Gaza Strip are hardly messages of peace and friendship to one’s opponents.

Palestinian Students Stranded In Gaza

The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip which ostensibly was designed to halt further terrorist activities is also being employed to harass Palestinian students who are involved in studying at colleges in Egypt, Europe, and the United States. Israeli authorities agreed last week to allow a group of 254 students to leave their semi-imprsonment and enter Egypt so they might go from that nation to their colleges. However, for some unknown reason, only 199 were allowed to proceed onto Egypt while the remaining 55 were forced to remain in Gaza. As of this date, no logical reason has been offered by Israel authorities for the detention of college students who simply want to attend classes from which they have been barred since June of this year.

This is a minor incident in Palestinian-Israel relationships, but it highlights the sometime complex reasoning of Israel authorities on why person “X” is detained instead of person “Y.” The detainees are college students, not terrorists and the manner in which they are treated is bounded to radicalize some of them who undoubtedly are frustrated at their inability to pursue academic careers.

Fatah–We Will Fight With Hamas If Israel Invades Gaza!

Within days after the conclusion of the Annapolis conference which supposedly was to clear the way for peace between Israel and Palestinian leaders, a key official of Fatah, which President Abbas controls, announced Fatah would back Hamas, its enemy, if Israel troops invade the Gaza strip. “Fatah won’t remain idle in the face of an Israel invasion of the Gaza Strip. We will definitely fight together with Hamas against the Israel army. It’s our duty to defend the people against the occupiers.” This statement apparently indicates a willingness on the part of Fatah and Hamas to set aside differences in case Israel attacks any portion of the Palestinian Authority. There are reports several Arab nations are trying to mediate issues between Hamas and Fatah. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have made clear to President Abbas that peace cannot proceed until he reaches some sort of compromise with Hamas. The leaders of Hamas are charging the Annapolis conference was a cover up to allow Israel to launch an attack on Gaza.

It is amazing that nothing was done or said or agreed upon at Annapolis between Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas concerning any planned Israel operations in Gaza. This is definitely not the time for Israel to initiate any violent action against Hamas regardless of the provocation. There is no question Hamas is allowing rocket attacks on Israel, but the Olmert government has too much at stake to allow their anger and frustration to get in the way of proceeding on the road to peace. Invade Gaza and that ends any hope for peace for years. The most important focus of Israel should be upon how it can assist moderate Arab leaders in negotiating with Hamas so there can be a unified Palestinian group with whom to negotiate.