With airplanes and tanks, the Israeli military struck against the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in Palestine on Wednesday, killing mostly gunmen but also at least one child and a civilian, report Reuters and other news sources.
Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in a “coup” against rival faction Fatah a week and a half ago. Before the fighting, Hamas and Fatah had been united in a three-month-old coalition government, with Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas the president and a member of Hamas acting as prime minister. Hamas is viewed as a terrorist organization by the West and by Israel, and it does not recognize Israel politically.
Egypt, which is a Moslem nation but one that has a peace treaty with Israel, has accused Iran of supplying and training members of Hamas. Iran is also very hostile toward Israel.
The Fatah government now resides in the Palestinian West Bank, and is politically supported by Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and the West.
Israel struck in Gaza City and in Khan Younis, and its actions indicate that it intends to keep strong military pressure on the “terrorist infrastructure” of Hamas. Israel and the West intend to keep Hamas isolated financially and politically until it yields to demands for peace with Israel and a re-united Palestine. President Abbas has stripped Hamas leaders of their political powers, although those leaders refuse to acknowledge their loss of authority.
Four of the militants that Israeli forces killed on Wednesday were members of Hamas.
The violence comes just as mediators in the Middle East are preparing to have Tony Blair, who is stepping down as Britain’s prime minister, appointed to position of mediator in reviving peace talks between Israel and the recognized Abbas government of Palestine.
Both governments have openly stated that they desire peace with each other and a fully independent Palestine. Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern has said that Blair confided in him that he has already agreed to accept the role.
“((This Israeli strike is all part of a)) conspiracy in which (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas is a participant and which is aimed at pressuring Hamas and the people of Gaza,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Reuters.
The Abbas cabinet was no more pleased with Israel’s actions than Hamas, calling the military maneuvers a “bloody escalation…a bid to draw more reactions to keep the circle of violence going on,” Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Abbas, said to Bloomberg.
“We strongly condemn these criminal acts, either in Gaza or the West Bank. We are against violence in all its forms and also we are against launching rockets (at Israel),” Abbas told reporters for Reuters.
Bloomberg, “Israeli Army Kills 12 Palestinians in Gaza Clashes ”
Reuters, “Israeli forces kill 12 Palestinians in Gaza raid”
CNN, “Report: Israeli Gaza raids kill 10”