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The International Community

On Wednesday, Jordan’s King Abdullah urged the international community to intervene in order to prevent “Israel’s provocative actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, which are intended to change Jerusalem’s identity.”

Abdullah met in the afternoon with EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, after which the royal palace issued a harsh criticism of the Jewish Country:

“We cannot keep quiet in face of the Israeli steps that are meant to change the status quo in Jerusalem and cleanse it from its Arab citizens – both Muslims and Christian.”

The ruler of the Hashemite Kingdom added that Jerusalem was the “red line” that should not be crossed.

Luiz Inacio Lula da SilvaMeanwhile Brazil’s president has placed a wreath on the tomb of Yasser Arafat. President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva visited the late Palestinian leader’s grave Wednesday during a trip to Ramallah. He also called on Israel to dismantle the West Bank security barrier and lift its blockade on Gaza. He said that his country condemned Israel’s decision to build an additional 1,600 apartments in east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their future capital.

The Brazilian leader said that he wishes to play a bigger role in Mideast diplomacy:

“The region is important to the world and the negotiations are in need of the intervention of new elements, and we can help with this.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians have no preconditions for returning to the negotiating table. “We simply want the implementation of international resolutions and the Road Map.”

The Palestinian president urged Mr. Silva and the international community to work towards lifting the Israeli siege on Gaza and releasing Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
On Tuesday, Avigdor Lieberman boycotted meetings with Silva because the Brazilian did not visit the grave of Theodor Herzl.

“DAY OF RAGE”

THE SCOOP

What does Hamas do when they sense things are not going their way? Declare a sloppy Jihad!

Palestinian "Day of Rage"Hundreds of Palestinians held a “Day of Rage” yesterday – the Palestinian Authority announced a general alert and Israeli Border Police did their job.

What does a “Day of Rage” entail? Why, it entails throwing stones at security forces in east Jerusalem and in the West Bank.

Hamas’ parliamentary speaker Dr. Ahmed Bahar called Palestinians to strike Israel with terrorist attacks in its central region as a response to the “desecration of al-Aqsa”, which actually has not been desecrated.

Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen commented on the situation saying:

“The Temple Mount is a national challenge for the police, and an international challenge. Every incident has significant ramifications on the situation. It is our job to maintain the relative calm. At this time, and in recent times, there are a number of signs of attempts to disrupt the order at the Temple Mount. This is why we have prepared in massive numbers, including today, to enable the freedom of worship.”

The Red Crescent in Jerusalem reported that 49 Arabs were injured around the Old City and in east Jerusalem as of noon, including 14 people injured from rubber bullets and 16 who suffered from teargas inhalation.

In total, 31 Palestinians were arrested in Abu Dis, Hawara, Wadi Joz, al-Tur, and around the Temple Mount. The riots also spread to Naalin, where 50 Palestinians hurled stones at security forces. IDF soldiers responded with means of crowd control, causing no reports of injuries.

Palestinian police were deployed in towns and cities in the West Bank to prevent the rioting from spilling over into PA territory. A PA source said, “The security forces are acting almost as if it was an emergency situation, with the aim of maintaining order.”

The PA also upped its surveillance of Hamas figures after the call for the general “day of rage” in the West Bank.

During the rioting to the east of Jerusalem, traffic was stopped for five minutes in the Gaza Strip as a sign of solidarity with Palestinians in the holy city. Trading was slow, and school classes were suspended while students and pupils demonstrated in the streets.

THE SCOOP FROM THE OTHER SIDE

MK Ahmad Tibi said:

“There is a sense that they are trying to reoccupy east Jerusalem, we are here to protest what we call the judaization of Jerusalem. Anyone that claims there is freedom of worship cannot prevent Muslims from coming here to pray. It is obvious that the goal is to leave the al-Aqsa Mosque without worshippers.”

MK Haneen Zoubi (Balad) said:

“Israel is testing the Palestinian and international threshold via the violent policies of judaization and occupation it is applying in Jerusalem: Massive Jewish inhabitation in the east of the city and in the Arab neighborhoods, the demolition of houses, the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes, revoking identity cards, suppressing demonstrations, arresting resident, picking on human rights activists.”

He added:

“This policy is nothing short of ethnic cleansing, and it constitutes a strong motive for the launch of a third intifada, even more than Sharon’s visit to the al-Aqsa mosque. It seems that the official Palestinian and Arab stance has given Israel the wrong message: That the Palestinians will not fight for their freedom and their rights, and that the intifadas are a thing of the past. This is an incorrect assumption, as the ongoing aggression and occupation in Jerusalem make an intifada an unpreventable measure.”

He further stated:

“I am addressing the government and warning of a flare-up that will drag the area into a violent conflict. We will not sit idly by as the rights of the Palestinian people in general and the residents of Jerusalem in particular are trampled. There is no link between the rights of the Palestinian people in east Jerusalem and the honorable Joe Biden or the honorable United States, and there is no right timing to populate Arab neighborhoods with Jews. There is no good timing for occupation! Israel must seek a solution to its true crisis, which is not with the US administration, but with the Palestinian people.”

International Temple Mount Awareness Day

Israeli law prides itself on two cardinal principles of democracy: freedom of access to places of worship, and the freedom of worship to practitioners of all religions.

Israeli government has always cited the Jewish Country’s unflinching assurance of the freedom of worship for Muslims and Christians in the city of Jerusalem. This fact is vitally presented in its case to maintain Jerusalem as a united city under Israeli sovereignty.

Temple MountThe irony is this: in the heart of Jerusalem lies a piece of real estate which has been granted de facto some sort of extra-legal, extraterritorial status, a sort-of “wild West” where the rule of law does not exist and the most basic and inalienable democratic rights are not honored. That is the Temple Mount.

The facts are as such: The Muslim Waqf, controlled by the Palestinian Authority, has been granted absolute say over the administration of the Temple Mount. Illegal destruction of archaeological findings from the first and second Temples takes place on a daily basis, and so does illegal construction. The Waqf’s unambiguous aim of this policy is the transformation of the entire Temple Mount plateau into one massive Mosque, thereby achieving exclusivity to the site for Muslims.

No less pernicious is the manner in which non-Muslims are treated both atop the Mount and upon approaching it. The discriminatory policy is enforced by the Israeli police, go figure. Non-Muslims are simply not allowed to carry with them a Bible or prayer book and are not even allowed to pray. Jews who ascend the Mount, in accordance with Jewish law are singled out and discriminated against in a derogatory fashion. They are detained at the security booth, identification cards inspected and given oral instructions on what they cannot do.

Furthermore, unlike any other group of human beings ascending the Temple Mount, Jews are not allowed to be in gatherings of more than 10 or 20 at a time, and they are accompanied during the entire duration of their visit by police officers and a Waqf official to ensure that they do not violate the prohibitions. It is needless to say, prayer books, the Tanach, tefillin or a tallit are forbidden.

In recent rulings, the Supreme Court has categorically upheld the right of Jews to pray on the Mount, and has had to reprove the police for not honoring this law. If the danger exists that Jewish prayer on the Mount could be met by a disturbance of the peace, then freedom of worship is denied.

The Temple Institute has declared this coming Tuesday, March 16, the first of the month of Nisan, to be International Temple Mount Awareness Day. Supporters are called-upon to petition the government of Israel for change.

Happy Birthday Hamas

Happy anniversary to Hamas…Has it really been 22 years already? I guess time flies when you are engaging in guerrilla warfare. To mark the event, hundreds of activists and supporters of the terrorist organization in the West Bank were summoned to several branches of the Palestinian Authority, where it was requested of them to sign a document in which they pledge to refrain from public celebration.

Hamas Birth DayThe PA has taken it upon them self to ban celebrating Hamas’ birthday for the last four years. In Nablus alone, more than 600 Hamas supporters and activists were asked to sign the written statement, promising to refrain from participating or organizing public events. Altogether, about 1,500 men and women have been warned that they would be arrested if they broke the ban.

In the past 48 hours, 25 Hamas supporters were arrested in Nablus, Kalkilya, Ramallah and Hebron. Among the arrested was Muhammad Srour, the former mayor of Ni’lin.

Hamas is planning a mass rally in Gaza City on Monday. Obviously this is under Hamas’s own “jurisdiction.”

The decision to ban Hamas celebrations in the West Bank came just a few weeks after the Palestinian Authority banned Fatah supporters from marking the anniversary of Yasser Arafat’s death.

Getting Ready for the Winter Freeze

On Wednesday Bibi, expecting that he will get cabinet approval, will announce a 10-month settlement construction freeze for the West Bank. A statement this week from the Prime Minister’s office said:

As part of our efforts to give impetus to peace talks with the Palestinian Authority and promote Israel’s comprehensive national interests, the prime minister will ask the security cabinet to approve a temporary suspension on construction permits for new residences and the [actual] start of new residential construction for a period of ten months.

Binyamin NetanyahuJewish settlement Construction in the West Bank, as most know, began in 1967 after defeating a Jordanian attack during the Six-Day War. Today there are more than a quarter of a million Israelis who live in these West Bank settlements.

The freeze will not include East Jerusalem – which is a thorny issue. Jews do not consider the area part of the West Bank settlements, whereas Palestinians say that it is exactly that. The freeze will also not apply to construction that has already been authorized, or to do work on public buildings which is deemed to conducive to normal life.

The Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told reporters in response to the statement by the Israeli camp, that a settlement freeze without halt in construction in Jerusalem is unacceptable. The Palestinians dream of having Jerusalem as the capital of their state.

Fayyad told reporters:

“What has changed to make something that what was not acceptable a week or 10 days ago [acceptable now]? The exclusion of Jerusalem is a very serious problem for us.”

A Dangerous Game of Illusions

Palestine AuthorityLeaders of the Palestinian Authority are planning to launch a diplomatic campaign to gain world support for a Palestinian state. The state would include the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. The idea which Abbas is behind would be proposed to the United Nations, who would vote on acceptance of a sovereign Palestinian country, in the proposed regions.

Israel sees this as a threat to the grueling peace process. Mohammed Shtayyeh, a member of the Fatah Central Council in Ramallah said:

“The Israelis impeded negotiations, and therefore we are left with only this option in order to safeguard our national project…We have been left with no other choices and nothing to lose…How can Abbas or any other Palestinian leader survive in this context without political developments? This is the only thing we can offer our people now. The time is right.”
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, “There is no substitute for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and any unilateral path will only unravel the framework of agreements between us and will only bring unilateral steps from Israel’s side.”

Another angle of the debate is the media factor. Who will be giving support to who and why?
Have a look:

EDITORIAL IN ISRAEL’S JERUSALEM POST
So rather than bargain in good faith to build a viable accord, Saeb Erekat and Mahmoud Abbas are betting on an outside imposed solution. Their way will not bring reconciliation, mutual security and peace, but doom yet another generation of Israelis and Palestinians to more bloodshed.

EDITORIAL IN JORDAN’S AL-DUSTOUR
The policies of occupation, especially continuing settlement-building, have caused the failure of negotiations and have led the peace process to a gridlock… The idea of declaring the establishment of an independent Palestinian state has emerged strongly during this stage as a sole option. This is a legitimate right.

BEN KASPIT IN ISRAEL’S MA’ARIV
Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in Jerusalem yesterday but his words were aimed at Ramallah. The threat was explicit. Your unilateral steps will lead to unilateral steps on our part… In the end both sides threaten but they do not really mean it

EDITORIAL IN SAUDI AL-WATAN
The Palestinian leaders, especially those who have been supporting the Oslo accords, came to a consensus that 18 years have gone astray and that Israel has been stalling in order to achieve its goal, which entails setting up a Jewish state with Jerusalem as its eternal capital.

HASAN AL-BATAL IN PALESTINIAN AL-AYYAM
The strong Israel is afraid of weak Palestine. In reality, it is afraid of its own nightmares as expressed by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman… He sees that the establishment of a Palestinian state will push Israel back to the 1967 borders, only for the Palestinians to ask for autonomous rule in the Galilee and the Negev after that.

ALUF BENN IN HA’ARETZ
Netanyahu has returned to power after a decade and is again fighting a Palestinian threat to declare statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip… If Netanyahu acts correctly, he will again be able to take pride in his ability to foil Palestinian declarations of statehood, just as he did during his first term as prime minister.

ONE JERUSALEM
Given the chaos in the region, such a UN vote as that which accepted Israel as a sovereign nation in 1948 is both premature and irresponsible. A state was given to the Palestinian people before further territories were captured by Israel forces in 1967. However the proposal went refused. To think that a new country, justified by a unilateral United Nations vote would not fall either immediately into a civil war or let power slip into the hands of Hamas, is insane. The plan spells war and why should Israel be forced to expose her sovereign territories like that?

Is Abbas Still The Boss?

abbasAt a meeting of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to not run for re-election in January. The threat, says Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, is meant to be a warning to America and Zionists. He said:

“We advise him to … face the Palestinian people and tell them frankly that the path of negotiations has failed. Halt negotiations with the occupation and take practical steps toward reconciliation.”

Hamas and Abbas have led rival governments in Gaza and the West Bank for the last two years, after Hamas’s bloody and violent seizure of the coastal area in 2007.

Abbas cites frustration with the lack of progress in peace negotiations with Israel as his main reason for stepping down.

The Head of the PLO Executive Committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo said on Thursday, that they rejected Abbas’ announcement; and the presidents of Egypt and Israel, the king of Jordan and Israel’s defense minister all called Abbas on Thursday, urging him to reconsider.

The Palestinian consensus is that West Bank settlements are ruining their dream of independence. Some 500,000 Israelis now live in Samaria and East Jerusalem, which Palestinians claim crucial for building their own independent state.

The Obama administration has not been able to pressure Israel to halt its construction in the “West Bank”. And if the U.S. cannot get Israel to budge on that, they will also fail in other negotiations involving the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem.

Hillary Leaves Settlers Freezing

hillaryUS Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has offered Israel half praise and half criticism on their plans for a semi-freeze of settlement expansion. On Monday she said that the proposed plan “falls short of US expectations.” Israel says that it is willing to limit settlement expansion, while not freezing it altogether.

Clinton said:

“Successive American administrations of both parties have opposed Israel’s settlement policy. That is absolutely a fact, and the Obama administration’s position on settlements is clear, unequivocal and it has not changed. As the president has said on many occasions, the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements…I will offer positive reinforcement to either of the parties when I believe they are taking steps that support the objective of reaching a two-state solution,” she said.

“This offer falls far short of what we would characterize as our position or what our preference would be. But if it is acted upon it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful effect on restraining their growth.”

Clinton also insisted that the Palestinian Authority deserved credit for their “unprecedented” steps toward improving security in the West Bank.
After her stop in the Holy Land, Mrs. Clinton continued down the path to Morocco, to speak with Foreign Ministers from several Persian Gulf countries, including Prince Saud al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia.

Trouble in Paradise: The Latest From Al-Haram al-Sharif

Sunday was a day of chaos in Jerusalem’s old-city – which houses the holiest sites for Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.
Organized Palestinian protestors stormed the area which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock mosque, famous to Jews as the site of the Temple mount, while a conference by the Jewish National Religious Temple Institute in Jerusalem was underway.

Israeli police in Jerusalem gathered early at the site early in the day, in anticipation of the violent protests, which called for an end to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Things got out of hand when Israeli police were hit with rocks and one Molotov cocktail, thrown by the Muslim rioters. There were reports that even tourists, who always frequent the holy area, were also being attacked with rocks. Palestinian demonstrators also poured oil through the streets to prevent Israeli police from gaining access to the site of the mosque.
In response the Israeli forces stormed the area of the al-Aqsa Mosque, using stun grenades. When the rioting had ended, nine policemen were reported as having suffered light injuries, after being pelted with rocks. Palestinian medical sources said that 17 Palestinians were treated for injuries; and 21 Palestinians were arrested.

Flag Burning by Our Turkish "Fans"According to an article in “The Age”:

The Jordanian Government’s spokesman in Jerusalem has demanded that Israel prevent its soldiers from entering the area known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif because, he said, it desecrated the area.

The Palestinian Authority Minister Hatem Abdel Kader, who is responsible for all PA Jerusalem affairs was arrested, and so was Islamic Movement cleric Ali Abu Shiyahe. Further details are pending on this latest eruption of the world’s Holy volcano.

Meanwhile, today in Turkey, demonstrators gathered to protest Israel’s actions in Sunday’s incident. According to an article in World Bulletin:

“[protesters] gathered in front of 4. Levent Metro station, thousands of people marched to Israeli consulate general. Shouting slogans to condemn Israel, protesters burned the Israeli flag in front of the consulate.”

Some Questions about the Fatah Convention

Fatah, the PLO faction group founded in 1954 by Yasser Arafat, is having its 6th general convention today. I have some questions about it. First, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas opened the festivities by condemning Hamas and saying that investigations are ongoing as to the cause of Arafat’s death.

MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANS FATAH CONFERENCEQuestion: Why? The fact that he was old, decrepit, and suffering from latent Parkinson’s and just died, hasn’t really clinched it for them yet?

He then went on to say that Israel hasn’t kept its commitments to the United States, including giving up sovereignty over eastern Jerusalem and even parts of the Dead Sea.

Question: When was this? I can’t seem to recall when Israel made those promises to anyone. I can remember, though, when Israel actually offered them to the PLO and they refused.

Then things got more interesting. He continued: “Although peace is our choice, we reserve the right to resistance, legitimate under international law.”

Question: What resistance he’s talking about? Really, I’m curious. Peacefully picketing and civil disobedience? Or is it murdering innocent civilians? I’m just asking, because it’s unclear.

Jibril Rajoub, who used to be in charge of the PA police, then clarified and said that “armed resistance” is always an option, and that Israel must acknowledge that. So there goes nonviolent civil disobedience.

Question: What do you mean, Jibril by “acknowledge?” Does fighting back qualify? Or is acknowledgment only sitting around watching buses explode and retreating?

I’ll tell you what, Jibril. I will gladly acknowledge your resistance if you acknowledge Israel’s response to it. Then we can sit down over a cold beer, a la Obama, Gates, and Crowley at the White House and discuss mutual acknowledgment.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Barak said it was important that the platform produced by the delegates will be representative of a wide range of views.

Question: What range of views?

President Shimon Peres, mentioning the convention, said that the Palestinians must remember that like Israel, “they must stay committed to the Road Map and the path of negotiations.”

Question: What happens if they don’t, as in the past 9 years?

The only Israelis expected to attend the conference were MKs Ahmed Tibi and Taleb A-Sanaa (UAL-Ta’al) and Muhammad Barakei (Hadash).

Question: Why are Israeli Knesset members allowed to attend a summit about armed resistance against Israel?

Is anybody listening?

After Thanksgiving – or Who’s Really the Turkey?

Thanksgiving 2007Since the American holiday of Thanksgiving is a secular one, Israel really doesn’t have anything to compare with it, as all holidays in Israel, save that of Independence Day, are religious ones. There are no shortage of “turkeys” in the Jewish State, however. By that simile, I’m not referring to the stately bird that graced the table of millions of American homes on Thursday, allowing them to more than stuff themselves with an abundance of food and drink while watching an assortment of parades, sporting events, and other holiday activities. Nothing happening in this country can even compare to this American national event which has been in effect since U.S. President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed in 1863 that the “forth Thursday in the month of November will be a day of thanksgiving for all the blessings that Almighty God has bestowed upon us”.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Putting all this aside for a moment, I’ll get back to the subject of turkeys, and not the aforementioned bird. The “turkeys” I am referring to are of the human kind and usually of a derogatory nature. If one were to look up this term in a modern, Israeli inspired “New Age” dictionary of the (American) English language, the appropriate definition would refer to a person who is (in Jewish Israeli terms) a bit of a frier or shmuck to put it bluntly. The reason this so pertains to what has been going on in Israel’s governmental leadership recently, particularly does so in regards to a so-called “peace summit” planned to begin in the U.S. State of Maryland on Monday, November 27. Harped for over two months already, this conference is billed as being the one to deal with a great many of the existing problems in the Middle East, especially concerning Israel and her Palestinian “neighbors”, such as they are.

Few people have much faith in what will be the result of this summit which may include some countries not having peaceful (let along diplomatic) relations with Israel. Israel’s leadership, especially the Prime Minister, seem to believe that great things will be accomplished, which brings me back again to the subject of turkeys. For all their rhetoric and supposedly good intentions, both Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni will most likely try to offer some incentives to make the conference end in some kind of success. Another interested party, the United States, is really interested in something good developing from this meeting, no matter what the consequences for Israel may be. But be that as it may, there may be a bunch of turkeys over there as well, as recent political and economic polls have indicated.

After the last few conferences, mostly hosted in Egypt by Egyptian President Husni Mubarak , not much, if anything has resulted from them. This also held true for earlier U.S. conferences including another one in Maryland in the year 2000. There were plenty of “turkeys” at that conference as well, including one, Israel’s present Defense Minister, who is slated to be at this one, in Annapolis.

We all better hope that there won’t be too many “foxes in the hen house” or turkey coupe as this case may be.

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.

Beach ‘Bash’ and ‘Israel Bashing': What Really Happened on Gaza Beach

By Maurice Picow

It didn’t take much time for the accusations to be hurled by both the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, as well as from entities outside of Israel as well. The tragic explosion that occurred on a strip of the pristine Gaza beach front last Friday now turns out to have been the result of mines which may had been planted there by the Palestinians themselves. The findings, as disclosed by an Israeli military investigation unit, and discussed during a press conference headed by Israeli military Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, disclosed that after examination of army video clips taken before and after the tragic event, IDF artillery shelling, which had been going on nearby, was not in progress during the time when the explosion was alleged to have occurred.

Gaza Bombing Victim - Aljazeera.net Picture from Aljazeera.net. The explosion, which took the lives of seven Palestinian civilians, four of them children, appears to have been set off by the people themselves, who inadvertently stepped on the explosive charge that was buried in the sand. Hamas quickly seized the opportunity to not only blame Israel as responsible for the event, but to also use the ‘opportunity’ to cancel the so called truce that had been declared when the organization took over the P.A. leadership after winning the January election. P.A. Prime Minister Hananyah also turned a blind eye to a new round of Kassam rocket attacks against Israeli towns and settlements located near the Gaza Strip. These attacks were quickly reciprocated by the IDF, resulting in several Palestinians being killed when Israeli air to surface missiles struck a minibus in Kahn Unis, killing 11 Palestinians, three of them children. In this attack, which was condemned by various world leaders, including U.N. Secretary General Koffe Annan, the Israel Air Force Spokesman noted afterwards the minibus was actually carrying a load of Kassam rockets destined for another attack against Israel, along with its human cargo.

Past experiences have proven that the Palestinians, all the way up to the leadership itself, do not have any scruples against using ‘human shields’ during various terror operations. And this incident appears to be within this format. Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, presently on a State Visit in the United Kingdom, commented that Israel will not waiver from its basic right of self defense. He went on to say that unless the Palestinian leadership shows more willingness to fight terror, then these operations will continue; until the Palestinian government finally decides that ‘enough is enough’ and is willing to act responsively.

Olmert, whose next stop after London is to visit French Premier Jacques Cherrac in Paris, and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, appear to be showing the Hamas-led P.A. government that Israel means business. Peretz, who comes from the town of Sderot, one of the places often struck by the Qassam rockets, has visited his home town several times since the new onslaught of missiles has begun in earnest. Hearing the anger, and anguish, of his constituents there hasn’t been easy for the man who initially offered to “sit down and negotiate” with the Palestinians. As the present situation now stands, however, any ideas of negotiation, have been put on a back burner, at least until the situation improves – it if ever does!

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