Friday, June 30, 2006

The Israelis continue airstrikes in Gaza, but halt their offensive on the ground...for now

The Israelis continue to pound Gaza, but appear to have temporarily halted their ground assault. Read on, and I'll tell you what I think might be behind that....

The IDF launched airstrikes at over 30 targets in the Gaza Strip overnight, including the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry in Gaza City.

Six other offices belonging to Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, roads, arms warehouses and training camps were also hit.

The Israelis also took out an Islamic Jihad terrorist, Abdel Ghael, and injured another who tried to launch an anti-tank missile at troops stationed in south Gaza.

Two jihadis from the al-Aqsa brigade were also killed in a shoot-out with Israeli soldiers in the city of Nablus, in Samaria (on the Northern West Bank).The IDF arrested eight other Palestinian terrorists in Nablus, Ramallah and Beit Likiya.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh surfaced today at a mosque in Gaza and vowed that his government would not be destroyed by the Israeli campaign.

The arrests of Hamas leaders and destruction of its offices 'will not break down government and will not affect the functioning of the government chosen by the people,' he said during Friday prayers in Gaza City.

Haniyeh accused Israel of using the kidnapped soldier to implement a 'multi-purpose, premeditated plan, meant to force the Palestinian people to kneel, to break it and to humiliate it.'

Gee, maybe the Palestinian Government shouldn't have attacked a military base in Israel and kidnapped a soldier for ransom in the first place..yah think? That kind of behavior usually leads to hostilities among us infidels here in the West.

More than half the Gaza Strip is without power after Israel destroyed Gaza City's main electricity station early Wednesday, but the Israeli army vehemently denied it hit another station further south, saying it was in fact damaged by a Palestinian-launched Qassam rocket.

The Israelis, however, have halted a ground assault scheduled to hit the Northern Gaza Strip today.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

The first one, according to some of my sources, is a major disagreement between Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and his defence minister, Amir Peretz.

Peretz is apparently blocking the quick offensive that Olmert and the IDF high command want to rescue Gilead Shalit, the Israeli corporal kidnapped by Hamas Sunday, June 25, and eradicate the Qassam missile infrastructure.

Peretz is still attempting to use the `diplomacy' formulae in view of supposed talks between Egypt's President Mubarek, Syria's Basher Assad, and Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal amd Ismail Haniyeh. Mubarek claims that Hamas is willing to release Shalit..for a price, the release of terrorists in Israeli custody and provided Israel halts the offensive in Gaza. The Israeli government has reiterated that they want Shalit freed, without preconditions, and in any event they have not been made aware of any concrete proposals by Hamas.

Peretz has been under heavy criticism anyway because of his complete lack of military experience and his Leftist views, which many feel (with justification) led to the current crisis. The IDF's command and even many politicians with more military expertise are furious with Peretz, and are saying openly that the delay minimizes the small chance Shalit has left for rescue.

But Olmet is apparently reluctant to assert himself or ask for Peretz's resignation because of the tenuous nature of the Kadima/Labor there it sits, for now.

Peretz cannot delay things to much longer, and if Shalit is not released soon, I think that common sense will prevail and the IDF will be ordered force the issue and go in after him.

Peretz apparently has not made the mental leap yet to realize that this is war. Perhaps Israel would be better off with a defence minister who has more experience and understanding of these issues.

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