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Tag: Israeli – Palestinian Relations (page 4 of 4)

1000 Dead or Wounded in 2 Days

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.

Back to Kassam School in Sderot

The beleaguered Israeli town Sderot, only a ‘stones throw’ or in this case, a Qassam rocket launch away from Gaza, “celebrated” the new school year today, September 3, being once again under a barrage of Palestinian launched Qassam rockets. When it had been announced earlier by local municipal authorities that the town of 15,000 would start the 2007/08 school year like every other Israeli community, their “neighbors” in the Hamas led Palestinian Gaza Strip decided otherwise. These “good neighbors” shot not less than 7 home made missiles into Israel, one of them actually striking a kindergarten and sending more than 20 children to hospital for treatment from severe trauma and shock.

The afternoon news broadcasts, showing scores of Sderot residents and police scurrying for the shelters, was a sad reminder that this type of harassment is far from over. Despite Prime Minister Olmert appearing on television with a warning that these kind of incidents will not be tolerated by Israel, it can only be wondered if the Palestinians will take Mr. Olmert seriously. Most likely, they will not.

Previous retaliations against Palestinian terror groups who are involved in this kind of activity have not been very effective; and even if several key terrorists are ‘taken out’ by selective “culling”, there are plenty more volunteers to eagerly take their place. I say eagerly, because it must be understood by all that not only are these people (the Palestinians) not afraid to die, they look forward to the “opportunity” to become ‘Holy Martyrs’ for their cause.

Israeli communities like Sderot and several smaller towns and settlements, including kibbutzim, which lie near the border with Gaza, will most likely continue to suffer these attacks; and larger communities like Ashkelon and Kiryat Gat may soon be targeted as well. It’s no secret that Hamas and other groups have been smuggling many varieties of weapons and explosives into Gaza; and longer range rockets may be part of this new arsenal. Even benevolent people like Arkady Gaydamak won’t be able to do much to alleviate the suffering of the people in areas under fire.

Recently, exiled Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal stated that relations between the Palestinians and Israel cannot improve as long as the Israeli military continues to “massacre” innocent Palestinian civilians. What Mr. Mashaal means by this term is puzzling as the IDF tries very hard to minimize civilian casualties among the Palestinians despite unfortunate incidents such as the deaths of three Palestinian children during a recent IDF military operation. With Palestinians having some of the most densely populated cities and towns in the world, it’s no wonder that occasionally some Palestinians are caught in the line of fire – especially when many Kassam rocket attacks occur from within densely populated areas.

Such is the reality of “back to school” in both the P.A. and some Israeli communities; especially Sderot.

Gilad Schalit Day 286 – Pair Of Glasses

Gilad Shalit Ynet Picture
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 “messy kidnapping thing” 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.

Abbas Depressed or Exhausted

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 Olmert’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. Abbas’s “depression” 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 government’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.

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