OLMERT : "NO-ONE SLEEPS TONIGHT IN GAZA..."
Israel has refused to do a deal with Palestinian militan groups to exchange one kidnapped IDF soldier for more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, including scores of women and children under 18, from Israeli jails.
From the Independent :
After days of international inaction, the US is now warning Israel not to harm the Palestinian President Abbas, not to kill or injure civilians and to stop destroying essential civilian infrastructure, all actions that violate international law.
Israel insisted it would accept only the "unconditional" release of Cpl Shalit, seized during a raid on an army post just outside Gaza, which killed two other Israeli soldiers last Sunday.
Mark Regev, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has reiterated that there will be no deals, that either Shalit will be released or we will act to bring about his release."
The US, however, has not told Israel it must halt its operations in Gaza, or to limit the scope of such operations.
The White House and US State Department is sticking by its earlier statement that : "Israel has the right to defend itself."
The threat of an Israeli onslaught into Gaza is now seeing the recently fueding factions of Hamas and Fatah militants uniting to fight any IDF invasion into their territories.
Israel's Prime Minister has now given his military forces the go ahead to use whatever force they deem necessary to rescue the kidnapped Israeli soldier. Israel forces are massed at both ends of the Gaza Strip, with more than 1.3 million Palestinian civlians trapped in between.
On announcing the start to the next stage of the terror-inducing operations, for which Israel is already preparing its representatives internationally to deal with the expected reports of Palestinian casualties, Prime Minister Olmert said, "...these are difficult days for Israel, but we won't give in to terror. We can't accept that our communities in the south are living in perpetual fear; I've given orders that no one sleep tonight in Gaza..."
The reason for invading Gaza, now the first part of the invasion is set to begin, continues to change in essence and scope.
The first mission statement was to free the IDF soldier kidnapped by Hamas militants.
Now Olmert has stated they must stop the firing of small rockets by Palestinians into Israel settlements.
The third reason is the one now being fiercely debated across the Middle East and in the UN :
To destroy the democratically elected Hamas government, even as they were on the verge of supposedly recognising Israel.
Is Prime Minister Olmert intending to change the entire face of the Middle East with this series of actions?
Israel is now being accussed of provoking neighbouring countries like Syria and Egypt to try and rescue the million-plus Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Because of actions taken by Israel, these civilians now live without fresh water, food, and electricity, and are being bombarded by the deafening sonic booms of low-flying IAF jets, which damage buildings and further traumatise the hundreds of thousands of children now encircled by Israeli tanks and gunships.
Should Israel provoke Syria, Egypt or even Iran into attempting to free more than one million Palestinians effectively held hostage by Israel, then a broader war in the Middle East is likely to break out.
But such an brutal clash between Israel, backed by the US, against Syria and Egypt, might also provide cover for Israel to take the initiative and strike Iran's nuclear power plants.
Israel could then claim it was acting in self-defence, pre-emptively, as the US had done in Iraq. Not that violations of international law would matter to Israel in the case of an attack on Iran.
Israel has already violated international law and smashed central tenents of the Geneva Convention by destroying Gaza's power infrastructure and blocking aid and food supplies.
So insane, so insidious, is the seige of Gaza by Israel, they are even refusing to allow Red Cross officials into the areas beset by a growing humanitarian crisis.
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