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Gaza: Can the peace process survive the latest violence

The Israeli incursion into Gaza has backfired, said Nehemia Shtrasler in Israel

The Israeli incursion into Gaza has backfired, said Nehemia Shtrasler in Israel’s Ha’aretz. Last week, Israel sent ground troops and launched airstrikes to retaliate against the incessant rocket fire that has been coming from Gaza into Israel. After five days of combat, at least 117 Palestinians—many of them civilians, including children—were dead, as well as two Israeli soldiers and one Israeli civilian. The Israeli army says it has severely weakened Hamas, the radical Islamic movement that controls Gaza. But at what cost? Footage of dead babies, killed by Israeli fire, simply makes all Palestinians become supporters of Hamas. Even Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, no friend of the Islamic radicals, has broken off U.S.-sponsored peace talks, saying he cannot negotiate while his people are dying. Military force simply does not work. Israel will have to negotiate with Hamas.

That’s assuming Hamas is even in a position to make or keep any promises, said Jihan al-Husayni in the U.K.-based pan-Arabic newspaper Al Hayat. According to Egyptian intelligence, Hamas has “lost control of its cadres in the field.” And Hamas isn’t even the only actor in Gaza. The Egyptians say it was Islamic Jihad that provoked the Israeli invasion by launching Katyusha rockets at the city of Ashkelon—a major escalation of the violence. The Qassam rockets that Hamas militants had been shooting at the town of Sderot are basically empty tubes, but the Katyushas “cause extensive destruction and ruin.”

This is what comes of leaving Gaza to the Palestinians, said former member of parliament Elyakim Haetzni in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth. Many Israelis predicted this impasse. “We told you that if you eliminate the Jewish settlements in Gaza, rockets will land in Ashkelon.” And we knew that the Egyptians could not be trusted to police their border with Gaza: They have turned it into “an arms highway for terrorists.” The European observers who were supposed to oversee the region, meanwhile, “simply ran away.” The lesson is that nobody can guarantee Israeli security but Israel. Disengagement from Gaza has failed. It is time to go back—with both settlements and troops.

See? The Israelis won’t be satisfied until they have reoccupied Gaza and killed every last Palestinian, said Muhammad Khayr al-Jamali in Syria’s Al-Thawra. “What the new Nazis, represented by Israel and its racist government, are committing against the Palestinian people in Gaza is much more than a war crime; it is a crime against humanity and a racial genocide.” Where were the Arab governments when this Israeli massacre began? Where were the Americans? Only now, after Israel troops have withdrawn, is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visiting the region. And her mission isn’t to punish Israel for its “hideous bloody crime,” but rather to browbeat Abbas into resuming peace talks.

At this point, there is no good option for the Palestinians, said Talal Awkal in the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam. The international community is clearly “colluding with Israel.” The U.S. “seems to have abandoned its role” as a broker. No wonder many Palestinians feel their only possible course of action is armed resistance.

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