Wednesday, June 28, 2006




For three months, tensions between Israel and Palestine have been on the rise. More than usual that is. This timeline from the UK Independent :

* 29 March Abbas swears in Hamas government headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyehr.

* 7 April US and EU suspend aid to try to force Hamas to recognise Israel's right to exist.

* 9 April Israel severs all direct contact with the government.

* 17 April Islamic Jihad bomber kills 11 people in Tel Aviv. Hamas calls it self-defence.

* 20 May Palestinian intelligence chief, an Abbas ally, hurt in assassination attempt.

* 7 June Hamas agrees to pull its militia off Gaza streets.

* 9 June Hamas calls off 16-month-old truce, blaming Israeli forces for killing 10 in Gaza.

* 10 June Abbas sets referendum on statehood proposal for 26 July. Hamas rejects it.

* 25 June Palestinian militants kill two Israeli soldiers and abduct Corporal Gilad Shalit.

* 27 June As more than 3,000 Israeli troops and armour surround Gaza, Palestinian militants begin erecting barricades.

Hamas and Fatah finally reach an agreement that will soft-sell recognise the existence of Israel and presumably lead to the establishment of Israel and Palestinian states, side by side. A long overdue outcome desired by an overwhelming majority of Israelis and Palestinians.

An Israel Defence Force outpost on the edge of Gaza is attacked by Palestinian fighters. They supposedly tunnelled three hundred metres under the security fence, popped up out of the ground, blew up an empty tank, killed two IDF soldiers and kidnapped a third, taking the wounded soldier with them back into Gaza.

Palestinians claim the attack on the IDF was an effort to stop Israeli tanks from firing artillery shells into civilian areas of Gaza. Israel in turn claimed they were trying to counter-attack the handmade rockets fired by Palestinians, from within Gaza, aimed at illegal Jewish settler sites.

A swamping tide of propaganda, spin and questionable justifications from both sides now consume the media, in amongst the confirmable truths.

At the time of this posting, Palestinians are setting up IEDs in ambush zones within Gaza, but the IDF has not reported taking any fire. However, essential Gaza infrastructure has already been destroyed by the IDF :
An Israeli army spokeswoman said: "During the night, the Israeli airforce hit three bridges in central Gaza and a power station south of Gaza City. Israeli forces entered the south of Gaza near the village of Dahaniya and the airport and they remain there at the moment."
The destroyed bridges will delay, or stop completely, emergency and rescue vehicles from reaching heavily populated areas of Gaza should there prove to be civilian casualties. The power station supplied electricity to the homes and businesses of more than 700,000 Palestinians.

The IDF spokespeople in the mainstream media say the Gaza invasion is solely about rescuing the soldier and returning him to Israel. But the local Israeli media are getting a different story, and this version is mostly about revenge :

"To exact a price for the kidnapping incident and to restore deterrence," one official told the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Aronoth.

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has promised : "We won't hestitate to carry out extreme action to bring (the IDF solder) back to his family."

The White House is backing Israel's invasion of Gaza :
"Israel has the right to defend itself and the lives of its citizens. In any actions the government of Israel may undertake the United States urges that it ensures that innocent civilians are not harmed, and also that it avoid the unnecessary destruction of property and infrastructure..."
The variety of Palestinian groups claiming to be holding the IDF soldier hostage want to negotiate a swap for women and children held in Israeli prisons.

A senior minister in the Hamas government refused to condemn the kidnappers for their actions. He thinks taking IDF soldiers hostage is justified :
This soldier...he's a military man. He's a soldier. He's sitting in his tank on the border of the Gaza Strip. He's shelling the children of the Gaza Strip every day, all the time for a one-and-a-half years...

I know the whole world did not become touchy for 12,000 Palestinian prisoners kidnapped from their homes....they're imprisoned for several years now. Among them are 400 women, some of them have given birth in prison for their children and we have at least 150 children under 18, teenagers, who are in prison under the Israeli Army and are military prisoners.
UPDATE : Day Three dawns and there's little visible action apart from rumbling tanks and grumbling militants :

Anxious men, women and children packed into rickety carts and cars and fled border areas of southern Gaza in fear for their lives after Israeli troops rolled into the territory.

A pair of Apache helicopters circled high above, firing occasional bursts into empty fields, a warning of the power Israel could yet bring to bear.

In downtown Rafah, Islamic Jihad, among the most defiant and hardline factions comprising the Palestinian resistance, staged a show of its own.

Rather than take the fight to the "Zionist enemy," a dozen masked militants in paramilitary garb, waving assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, paraded back and forth for journalists.

"We will never allow the enemy to enter our cities," one gunman said, shaking his M-16 rifle in the air.

The search for the kidnapped IDF soldier goes on. The kidnappers demand the release of Palestinian women and teenagers held by Israel, who repeats there will be no prisoner swap and no negotiations.

IDF Commander Admits Soldier Rescue Is Just One Reason For Gaza Invasion

Palestinian Authority "Declares State Of Emergency"

Threats To Butcher Captured Israeli Settler Live On TV

Fatah's Abas Calls IDF Invasion "Crimes Against Humanity"