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Israel's Next Step in Gaza

World  (tags: israel, Gaza siege-assault 2014, politics, war, media, news, HumanRights, unitednations, palestine, world, children, freedoms )

- 1437 days ago -
Israel's strategy in Gaza remains uncertain, as internal politics are at play for PM Netanyahu.

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fly bird (26)
Friday July 11, 2014, 11:47 pm
There is undeniably a war going on in Gaza, where Israeli army jets have dropped 400 tonnes of ordinance on as many targets, killing at least 70 Palestinians and causing more damage in two days than they did during an eight-day campaign in 2012.

Inside Israel, though, the talk is (somewhat counterintuitively) about whether a "major escalation" looms on the horizon.

Until recently, Hamas had been keeping relative peace in Gaza, arresting members of Islamic Jihad and other groups who fired rockets at southern Israel, pursuant to the terms of a ceasefire that ended the 2012 conflict.

But the detente broke down after June 12, when three teenage Israeli settlers were kidnapped in the occupied West Bank; their bodies were discovered on June 30 in a valley outside Hebron.

Israel blamed Hamas for the kidnappings, though it has not presented any evidence to prove it.

The Israelis carried out a massive round of arrests in the West Bank, rounding up hundreds of people affiliated with the group, including dozens of prisoners released in 2011 in exchange for captured soldier Gilad Shalit.

In Gaza, it stepped up air strikes on Hamas members. Hamas fired a barrage of dozens of rockets on Monday night, and by Tuesday, Israel set off on the current military offensive.

Netanyahu is also facing pressure from within his own coalition: At a cabinet meeting last week, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett complained that the air force was bombing too many empty structures in Gaza.

"The situation in the government is such that if they let go now, politically, they will suffer. The people in the south will never forgive them. They can't stop the operation,"

Shmuel Sandler, a political science professor

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, meanwhile, has revived his bi-annual call to reoccupy Gaza.

He announced on Monday that his political party, Yisrael Beiteinu, would end its 18-month-old unity pact with Netanyahu's Likud, at least partly because of disputes over Gaza policy.

"The situation in the government is such that if they let go now, politically, they will suffer. The people in the south will never forgive them. They can't stop the operation," said Shmuel Sandler, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University.

But Netanyahu also has to contend with vocal opposition from inside Israel. The past week has seen unprecedented protests by the country's Palestinian minority, who make up about 20 percent of the population.

The demonstrations started in East Jerusalem, where a 16-year-old boy was abducted and brutally murdered, a revenge attack for the killing of the settlers.

Palestinians also demonstrated against it on Tuesday night in Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and other cities in the occupied West Bank.

"The Israeli government is not stopping. They are continuing their crimes, wounding and killing people in Gaza," said Jamal Zahalka, a Palestinian member of the Knesset. "If he invades Gaza, there will be a strong protest inside Israel itself… He's worried about our reaction, and that is good."
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