Mohammed Shehada, head of the Islamic Jihad’s military wing and four associates were told by Egyptian mediators that a truce was now in effect and they could safely return to their homes in Bethlehem which recently had been bulldozed into rubble by the Israel military. As they left the scene, all five were killed in a hail of bullets from members of a special unit of the Israel army. Tens of thousands of Palestinians attended funerals of the men in scenes of anger and mourning that were shown all over the Middle East. Saleh Al-Naam, writing in al -Ahram, raises the question as to whether Israel is committed to the roadmap to peace or is it pursuing its own political and personal policies toward Palestinians.
He regards Defence Minister Ehud Barak as central to efforts to destroy peace efforts and quotes a recent statement: “Israel is committed to pursuing Palestinian resistance fighters who have been nvolved in opertions” that result in death to Israelis. Deputy Defense Minister Amos Harel insists “We will not allow the Palestinians to determine for us the timing, location or conditions of security operations.” Al Naami charges there is a deliberate program in effect by some members of the Israel government to destroy peace efforts in order to find justification for continued construction of housing on the West Bank as well as hoping chaos only results in continued division among Palestinians. He quotes Israel intellelctual Gideon Levy who recently wrote in Haaretz: “Barak hasn’t talked about peace for a long time and he surely doesn’t believe in the peaceful efforts of Olmert. In fact, he does all he can to destroy what little remains of them.”
Among the most important steps Prime Minister Olmert can make in the peace process is firing Barak and placing the Defence Ministry under control of someone who is committed to peace. Barak operates on the assumption Israel should retain the power to make unilateral determinations as to how the peace process will unfold. If a truce has been arranged it must include ceasing of military operations by all parties, not just one.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Military, Muslims, Peace, Politics, US Foreign Policy, War, World News
Tagged Barak, Israel, Olmert, Palestinians
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas told the Arab language al-Arabiya television network that Israel had in fact agreed to a cease fire with Hamas. His statement apparently contradicts comments made earlier by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who insisted there was no cease fire agreement with Hamas. According to Abbas, Hamas had obtained a promise from Israel it will end the policy of killing leaders of the militant organization. It appears firing of Kassam rockets and Israel military efforts have quieted down over the past few days. There are reports Secretary Rice during her recent visit began the process of some unofficial exchanges between Hamas and Israel. Olmert did say “if they don’t fire Qaddams at us, we won’t attack in Gaza.” A military source indicated both sides are cooling down their operations before things got out of hand.
Military sources indicate Hamas knows there are three alternatives:
1. If rocket fire stops completely, the IDF will take no further military action.
2. If rockets hit Siderot and other communities near Gaza, Israel will respond with air attacks.
3. If rockets hit Ashketon, there will be ground operations.
The real question is what to do during this lull. If Hamas uses it to resupply without any thought of ending rocket attacks, it will become a disaster for Gaza and for Israel. A loical solution at this point is to include Hamas representatives in peace negotiations with Israel and Abbas.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Military, Muslims, Peace, Politics, War, World News
Tagged Abbas, Gaza, Hamas, IDF, Olmert
Israel warned the Palestinian Authority there would be no independent Palestinian nation unless the rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip come to an end. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, said, “There is no hope for any kind of peace or the vision of the Palestinian state which includes the Gaza Strip without real change on the ground.” Prime Minister Olmert, refused to respond to angry calls for action against the Kassam rockets and urged calm. “We need to act in a methodical and organized fashion” rather than allow emotions to take over.
It is pleasantly surprising that Olmert is remaining calm in the face of those seeking revenge. Interior Minister Meier Sheetrit, said an entire Gaza neighborhood should be wiped out so “those in Gaza will understand that we are serious.” The rhetoric of violence plays to powerful emotions but leads nowhere. A mistake was made by the Bush administration in not having Hamas at the Annapolis conference where they would have been forced to confront Arab nations and defend the rocket attacks. This blog urges formation of a Muslim Legion composed of soldiers from Turkey and Morocco who would ensure the end of rocket attacks from Gaza.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Military, Muslims, Peace, Politics, World News
Tagged Gaza Strip, Livini, Olmert, PA