Friday, February 29, 2008


Israel warns Gaza invasion impending (AP)
ASHKELON, Israel - Israel's deputy defense minister warned on Friday of a disaster in the Gaza Strip after Israel activated an air raid system to protect a major city from increasingly threatening Palestinian rocket barrages.

As Israeli troops, tanks and aircraft went after Palestinian rocket operations, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Army Radio that Israel had "no other choice" but to launch a massive military operation in Gaza.

"As the rocket fire grows, and the range increases ... they are bringing upon themselves a greater 'shoah' because we will use all our strength in every way we deem appropriate, whether in airstrikes or on the ground," Vilnai told Army Radio.

The Hebrew word "shoah" is most often associated with the Holocaust but Israelis use it to describe all sorts of disasters. A spokesman for Vilnai, Eitan Ginzburg, said the deputy defense minister never intended it as a reference to the Holocaust but used the word "shoah" to denote a disaster.....

The Israeli military has completed its preparations for a major ground offensive and notified the government it is ready to move immediately when the order is given, Israeli defense officials said. But Israel does not intend to launch a major ground offensive in the next week or two, partly because the military prefers to wait for clearer weather, they said, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

Israel Prepares International Opinion for Assault on Gaza - Herb Keinon
As Hamas drew Ashkelon into the circle of communities coming under heavy rocket attacks, Defense Minister Barak and the Foreign Ministry on Thursday began preparing both Israeli and world opinion for the possibility of a large-scale incursion into Gaza. According to defense sources, the goals of such an operation would not "merely" be to reduce the threat of rocket fire and rocket manufacturing in Gaza, but would also likely entail paralyzing the Hamas government's ability to operate. Barak told Quartet envoy Tony Blair and Egyptian intelligence head Omar Suleiman that Israel could not tolerate the current level of rocket fire without offering a wider response.

Foreign Minister Livni said "there is no moral equivalence between terrorists and those fighting them, even if during those actions innocent civilians are accidentally killed. In these cases the world should not come to us - there is only one address for the Palestinian situation in Gaza and for what is likely to happen there in the future - and it is Hamas." (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinians Bringing Tragedy Upon Themselves - Marty Peretz
Let no one be deluded. Hamas is bruising for a war, and Israel will oblige. Sooner rather than later. Katyusha rockets hit the city of Ashkelon, which dates to deep antiquity and is now home to 120,000 people. The attacks on Ashkelon signify that Hamas' capacity now has longer range and greater accuracy. (This is a forewarning to the Israelis about what might happen if they were to hand over the West Bank to the Palestinians. After all, what guarantees could there be that Israel's population centers - Jerusalem, Tel Aviv - will not be similarly exposed and endangered?)

When the Israel Defense Forces enter Gaza, their goal will be to obliterate Hamas' military strength. But this has been implanted among the civilian population in order to obstruct an Israeli retaliation. The Israelis will restrain themselves as much as they can. But the victims of the fighting will also include Palestinian civilians, who will have brought their tragedy on themselves. (New Republic)

Insatiable Extremism - Editorial
Israel is gone from Gaza. Yet Hamas has intensified its attacks on Israel. A mindset that loathes Israel more than it seeks its own freedom will not be remade by Israeli withdrawal or endless international funding and sympathy. A leadership inciting against Israel in its media, mosques and school system will not be rejected by the Palestinian public so long as much of that population is mired in a bigotry that inculcates permanent victimhood, refuses to recognize any shred of justice to Israel's sovereign claims, and extols the virtues of violence and death.

What the Hamas-inspired murderous rocket fire across the Gaza border should long since have made plain to all is that even territory cleared of every last vestige of Israeli presence does not sate the appetite of the Islamists - who happen to constitute the parliamentary leadership freely elected by the Palestinian public. (Jerusalem Post)

Little Enthusiasm to Reoccupy Gaza - Herb Keinon
Barak is unlikely to initiate a large-scale ground invasion to reoccupy Gaza. While there is a need to secure the border between Egypt and Gaza, and while he may penetrate into Gaza to more effectively strike out at Hamas' infrastructure, there is little enthusiasm in either the defense establishment or the Prime Minister's Office about going in to reoccupy Gaza. Ironically, the party at this moment most eager to see the IDF march back into Gaza is Fatah, which would like nothing more than for Israel to do its dirty work: smash Hamas and then hand Gaza to Fatah on a silver platter. The Israeli public, however, will have little stomach for losing the lives of its soldiers in order to deliver Gaza to Mahmoud Abbas. (Jerusalem Post)

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