Ignoring its own people’s wishes in attacking Gaza, Israel leaves Hamas no choice but to fight back
A recent poll published in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz suggested that 64% of Israelis favoured a negotiated truce with Hamas. But in the past few days, a military onslaught that has so far claimed more than a hundred Palestinian lives, mostly women and children, has made it clear that the Israeli leadership is not interested in any peaceful exit from the current predicament.
The Ha’aretz poll may point to a lack of confidence in the government’s ability to settle its problem with Gaza through the use of force, and vindicate those within the military and intelligence community who have been advising the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert to talk to Hamas. A truce as once proposed by Giora Eiland, who served as national security adviser to the former prime minister Ariel Sharon, would entail a reasonable exchange of prisoners and a lifting of sanctions in exchange for a cessation of all hostilities between the two sides. Hamas would, in principle, have agreed to negotiate a truce along these terms. But it seems that Olmert’s cabinet has not given up on the idea of bringing Hamas to its knees or finishing it off altogether.
The attack on Gaza comes at a time when all previous means of inciting the Strip’s population against Hamas have failed. The sanctions imposed globally on Hamas and the siege that almost suffocates Gaza’s 1.5 million inhabitants have neither forced Hamas to accept the three conditions set out by the Quartet (the US, the UN, Russia and the EU) nor convinced the Palestinian population to rise against it.
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