Hamas has agreed to a temporary cease fire in its rocket attacks on Israel after receiving a warning from Egyptian officials that Israel was planning a massive attack on Gaza and would seek out Hamas leaders and kill them. “The Egyptians old us that Israel is planning to assassinate number of Hamas leaders,” according to one official. Hamas also indicated it was willing to discuss a long term end of attacks provided that Israel opens the Gaza crossings and agrees to end attacks on Hamas people on the West Bank. Israel officials believe Hamas is finally beginning to understand they simply can not continue sending rockets into Israel without some consequence to their action.
Egypt is trying to negotiate a truce that would witness opening the Gaza crossings and an end to rocket attacks. If those are the conditions it would be intelligent for Israel to cooperate and see what happens if they cease attacks on Palestinians on the West Bank.
Hamas is attempting to present itself as the guardian of violent opposition to Israel in order to assume a position of importance in the Palestinian world. Undoubtedly, influenced by Israeli military problems in the invasion of Lebanon, Hamas officials are presenting themselves as not afraid of any Israel armed invasion of Gaza. Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas official, noted: “For three years we’ve been hearing comments about an Israeli invasion into the Gaza Strip. Israel is like a teenager who begins to smoke, chokes, then stops.” Hamas insists Israel failed to carry out the truce agreement that Gaza crossings would be open for commerce and goods. Hamas has issued a dare to israel to try and invade.
Hamas is misunderstanding the reluctance of Israel officials to respond with an armed invasion. Prime Minister Olmert sincerely seeks to make an agreement with Palestine leaders, but Olmert will soon be gone and there are other voices in Israel who are ready to take up the dare. If Gaza is invaded, thousands of innocent people will suffer.
Thousands of Turkish troops crossed the border and entered Iraq as part of a new campaign to wipe out Kurdish rebels. It is estimated at least 10,000 troops constituted the invasion force with thousands more prepared to join in the hunt for Kurdish militants. Turkish military leaders stated: “The Turkish Armed Forces”, which attach great importance to Iraq’s territorial integrity and stability, will return home in the shortest time possible after the goals have been achieved.” US military officials quickly learned the attack had been made in pursuit of the Kudisatan Workers Party(PKK) but were not making any public reaction to the action except to note the operation was to be of “limited duration” and aimed at PKK rebels.
A State Department official in Washington D.C. said the land incursion was “not the greatest news” and the United States had been cooperating with the Turkish military by providing information regarding the PKK. In Baghdad, Iraq’s Foreign Minister, Hoshiyar Zebari, said his government was not aware of an Turkish ground offensive. He apparently is the only one who doesn’t know what is happening.
During the past few months there have not been reports of any major actions by the PKK in the border region, but the Turkish military appears concerned about the situaton. One can only wonder if internal conditions in Turkey played a role in this incursion into Iraq.