The United States has apparently given the green light for Israel forces to launch an attack on Gaza i order to wipe out smuggling efforts by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Defense Minister Ehud Barak discussed the plan with President Bush and key American officials. He has been meeting the past several days with Israel army leaders to review the scope and scale of the proposed operation. A major concern is the impact on the upcoming Annapolis meetings to discuss Middle Eastern issues and deal with ways to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Israel forces recently uncovered several tunnels that were being used to transport war materials or serve as a way for people to be smuggled into Gaza.
There is no doubt Hamas and the Islamic Jihad are obtaining rockets and other weapons through smuggling. At this point in time, Hamas is not being invited to the Annapolis meeting. Perhaps, Israel might consider the possibility of inviting Hamas to the meeting and having the smuggling issue discussed among a large audience. The embarrassment of defending smuggling would place Hamas in a weak position and compel them to agree on improved methods to prevent the influx of military weapons.