The war of words has escalated in Israel and Gaza even as the war between opposing forces continues to result in death and destruction. Gaza has been cut off from the outside world as Kassam rockets from it continue to hit Israeli cities. Sharp exchanges in the Israel cabinet led Internal Affirs Minister Meier Sheetrit to blast Hizbullah’s leader by exclaiming: “We shouldn’t be afraid of Nasrallah, we should eliminate him.” Public Security Minister Avi Dichter complained the Israel armed forces were not doing enough to halt Kassam rockets and urged taking action “whatever the cost to the Palestinians.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded by insisting the IDF was hitting terrorists and was also planning new ventures. Gaza’s only electrical plant closed on Sunday insisting they had run out of fuel while Barak claims they have plenty of fuel but are only trying to gain world sympathy.
Hamas spokesperon, Sami Abdul Zhuhri defiantly told Israel, “we will not raise the white flag, we will not surrender.” The dueling banjo voices of extremists on both sides only ensures there will be no peace for either Palestinians or Israelis. The two immediate actions are an end to Kassasm rockets and opening Gaza to humanitarian supplies as well as access to needed fuel. It is time for Israeli and Hamas leaders to end their verbal exclamations and declarations and focus on what is needed for momentary peace. On one hand, the US and Israel insists they will never negotiate with Hamas, on the other hand they want Hamas to cease firing rockets. These are incompatible foreign policy objectives. There is need to involve prominent Arab leaders in a comprehensive approach to dealing with these issues and it is critical that Hamas be involved in any discussions. Ironically, lost in the anti-Hamas policy of Bush and Israel is the reality they are allowing Hamas to dictate what happens in the Middle East.