Sunday, March 2, 2008

Israel strikes back at Gaza rockets

Things are getting bad again in Gaza. In response to increased rocket attacks from the Palestinian territory that killed an Israeli student on Wednesday, Israel has launched a large-scale military operation that so far has resulted in the deaths of more than 50 Palestinians and at least two Israeli soldiers.

UN General Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for "excessive and disproportionate" use of force in the Gaza Strip, which has also injured more than 150 Palestinians. This could though be just the beginning of the fighting in Gaza. On Friday Israel's Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai said the Palestinians risked a "shoah", the Hebrew word that means large-scale disaster but is often associated with the Holocaust, if they did not stop the attacks.

But unfortunately for Israel military action in the past has failed to stop militants from launching rockets. Even on Saturday with the Israeli offensive underway, Gaza militants still shot 50 rockets off into Israel. Part of the reason is that the Qassam rockets usually shot by the militants are crude weapons that can be built with a few tools and some sheet metal in nearly any basement or garage. Hamas, meanwhile, seems to have a remarkable ability to withstand military actions and Israeli sanctions.

That would leave negotiations as the last option. A recent poll by the Haaretz newspaper in Israel has shown a growing willingness among even the most hawkish Israelis for talks with Hamas.

It’s a step Israel should take. The past has shown the military option doesn't work, neither does isolating the Gaza Strip. And Israel should keep Kosovo in mind. One Palestinian lawmaker has already suggested they just declare independence, though the Palestinian government quickly backed away from this idea. But if the "Roadmap for Peace" George Bush has staked so much of his legacy on is once again folded up, is it too hard to imagine the Palestinians taking this step? And what do the other Mid East countries do then? Or the European nations that were so quick to recognize Kosovo?

Like they say on TV - stay tuned...
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