Saturday, December 27, 2008

Operation Cast Lead: Hamas calls for Third Intafada in Response

At least 228 are dead as the Israeli Defense Force launched its greatest attack since the Six Day War. Called Operation Cast Lead, or מבצע עופרת יצוקה, the action shows a new boldness by PM Ehud Olmart.

Hamas ended its six month cease fire with Israel on December 19th. The terrorist group has begun a regular shelling of Israeli cities with Qassam rockets and mortars. There have been occasional attacks, but following the end of the cease fire, on December 21st fifty rockets struck Israel, followed by sixty attacks on Christmas Eve. (Wikipedia maintains a list of Qassam rocket attacks.)

On December 24th, Benjamin Netanyahu announced that if he was elected Prime Minister he would "topple Hamas leadership".

Israel's current Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, started off in the same party as Netanyahu, the Likud party, which is often called "the hawkish Likud party". Olmert was the youngest member of the Knesset when elected, and served six terms, three as a Likud party member, before running for the mayor of Jerusalem, where he served two terms. In November 2005 he pulled out of the Likud party and joined Ariel Sharon's Kadima party. This was two month's after Sharon's announcement of the Disengagement Plan, which called for the pull-out from Gaza of all Israeli citizens.

This action set up a political controversy between those who wanted Israel to maintain control of Gaza, and those who were willing to give the territory up in an attempt at peace with Palestine.

Olmert's party switch seemed to make it clear which side he was on. With an election for Prime Minister looming on February 10, 2009.

In polls released on December 25th, Likud was thought to be holding a lead in the Knesset, being estimated by both the Dahaf survey and the Dialogue survey to hold 30 of the 120 seats (down from 36 predicted two weeks earlier). Kadima is thought to stand to hold 26 seats.

PM Ehud Olmert appeared on Al-Aribya television to issue a last minute warning that if the rockets didn't stop, "I will not hesitate to use Israel's strength to strike at Hamas and Islamic Jihad."

Today we saw the results of that promise as more than 140 targets were bombed with more than 100 tons of ordinance by the Israeli Air Force, killing more than 230, and with injuries sure to exceed 1,000.

One of those targets was the Al Aqsa TV station, the voice of Hamas, which despite losing its studios to the Israeli bombs continued to broadcast from mobile locations.

Hamas' prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, declared his movement would not be cowed.

"We are stronger, and more determined, and have more will, and we will hold onto our rights even more than before," Haniyeh said. It was not clear where he spoke.

In Damascus, Syria, Hamas' top leader, Khaled Mashaal, called on Palestinians to rekindle their fight against Israel. "This is the time for a third uprising," he said.
(source: AP "Israeli assault on Hamas kills more than 200".

The First Intifada (sometimes called "War of Stones") ran from 1987-1993. The Second Intifada, known as "Al-Aqsa Intifada", began in September 2000 with a movement that began at the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Updated: Other media links

After IAF strike kills at least 230 in Gaza, Hamas chief vows third Intifada has come - Haaretz

Bombardment of Gaza Enters Second Day - video from BBC

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