It’s been 48 hours since the Air Force began pounding Gaza with “Operation Cast Lead”, and already more than 1,000 people have been killed or wounded.
While the heavily populated Gaza Strip is now under attack from both the air and the sea (Israeli Navy joined the offense), civilians who tried to flee the tiny Strip into Egyptian territory have been fired on by Egyptian forces. Surviving in Gaza is a very claustrophobic ordeal.
News reports claim 300 casualties on the Palestinian side, along with 700 injured. Hospitals lack supplies and blood units. And these early numbers are probably going to rise dramatically in the coming days.
On the Israeli side, 2 men have been killed by separate rocket attacks, while a dozen others were wounded. Hundreds of thousands of residents in southern Israeli towns are compelled to stay in or near available shelters all throughout the day. Indeed, there’s enough claustrophobia to go around on both sides of the fence.
I refrain from commentary at the moment. These are simply the dry facts.
Gilad Shalit was kidnapped 286 days ago today. Together with Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev (269 days), the guys are missing and we wait for their return. Read more about them here.
I read today that Gilad Shalit received his reading glasses. The glasses were sent to him 2 months ago by his father Noam, and he reportedly received them 2 weeks ago through Egyptian mediators. It took almost 2 months to get him a pair of reading glasses. I guess the Palestinians just don’t get it…
The Palestinians are tired of this whole hostage “thing” though and that is supposedly the good news. In a recent visit of the Chancellor of Germany, Angela apparently was mostly talking about Shalit and gave little attention to the Palestinian political issue to the extent that made the Palestinian very “disappointed”. She also didn’t hide her disappointment from Abu Mazen’s impotence and lack of ability in the Shalit kidnapping. I am sure that the Palestinians would like to get this whole â€œmessy kidnapping thingâ€ out of the way, after all, its difficult to be taken seriously as an actual law biding country when you go around kidnapping soldiers. Look at Iran, the spiritual and ideological leader, the sponsor, even he had to return the British hostages.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas denied reports of being depressed and justified his condition as just being exhausted because of his elections
campaign work. He also hinted at the same time that he might resign if the government formed after the nearing parliament elections will oppose his policies, including peace talks with Israel.
Abbas also reacted to Olmertâ€™s statement calling for the resumption of the peace negotiations with the Palestinians, after the elections and once they dismantle the militant groups. Abbas is willing to meet Olmert as soon as possible, adding that negotiations is the only way for peace and not unilateral actions and assassinations.
Abbas intentionally avoided the condition mentioned by Olmert of dismantling the militant groups, which he refuses to do. Abbasâ€™s â€œdepressionâ€ is probably justified judging by the political mess he is in, his Fatah movement is plagued by corruption, Palestinian areas are increasingly chaotic recently, questioning his governmentâ€™s ability to control the situation, or for that matter follow through on his commitments in any peace talks.
On the other hand the militant Hamas seems to gain popularity and is posing a strong challenge to the ruling Fatah party, inevitably earning seats in the new government after the vote, which in turn will put future peace negotiations with Israel on ice for a long time to come. No wonder Abbas feels depressed under the circumstances, I would too.