The Israeli government finally seems to have gotten a “wake up call” regarding it’s dealings with the Hamas entity in the Gaza Strip. On Wednesday, September 19, it was announced that Israel now considers the Hamas led government in Gaza to be “enemies of the State of Israel” due to it’s continued hostilities, largely as a result of the firing of Qassam rockets. Declaring Gaza to be a “hostile entity”, it was decided that only the most necessary humanitarian supplies, such as food and medicine, will be allowed into the strip from Israel.

These statements just coincidentally occurred during U.S. Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Jerusalem; resulting in Ms. Rice being a bit ‘lost for words’. During a carefully worded comment on the Israeli government’s actions, she said: “We will endeavor to assist the Palestinian population in Gaza with all possible humanitarian aid, since they and the West Bank are part of a future Palestinian State”.

Hamas reaction was indeed swift and frank. When interviewed Wednesday afternoon by Channel 2 TV, Hamas spokesman Fauzi Bahumi said: “This Israeli action is nothing short of a declaration of war. Nothing has changed since Israel left Gaza two years ago, and we are still being treated like prisoners in our own land.”

When asked if it might be possible to find a way to enter into negotiations with Israel, Bahumi replied: “How can we recognize our enemy?”

Reaction by commentators to this new stance on the part of Israeli P.M. Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak was like saying “duhh ..hello!, so what else is new?”

Indeed, what else is new, except that this new declaration now formally lumps the entire citizenry of Gaza into the status of being sworn enemies of the Jewish State. In light of almost daily firing of home-made Kassam rockets, one of which recently hit an army base and injured 69 young recruits just completing their basic training, at least the Israeli government has finally decided to tune into reality. This change in tactics will now allow Israel to cut off electricity, water and supplies of fuel to Gaza when it feels necessary to do so.

Palestinians in the (so far) Fatah controlled P.A. entity in the West Bank condemned the action, and a spokesman for “newly promoted” P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas said that the action is “collective punishment against the entire Palestinian people and discourages concrete discussion towards peaceful negotiations”.

Abbas’s comments are now a bit confusing. After all, aren’t the Fatah-led Palestinians supposed to be Israel’s good buddies? And didn’t Olmert just “promote” Mr. Abbas to Palestinian Authority President instead of Chairman?

It appears that finally, Israel is calling ‘a spade a spade’ as the old saying goes. Likud party leader Binyaman Natanyahu has been advocating this action be done for some time now, and Olmert and Co. must have decided to play the same game of “hard ball”. With captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit still languishing in captivity “somewhere in Gaza” the reality of this 1.5 million population “entity” on Israel’s doorstep, and which has actually become an Islamic quasi-republic, presents a new reality to the possible future declaration of a Palestinian state.

As a result of Israel’s new hard line stance, and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaching, the next few weeks will undoubtedly be nothing short of “interesting”. And to quote a well known Chinese saying: “we are living in interesting times”.