Israel Launches New Airstrikes on Hamas
Israeli warplanes sent missiles slamming into a car carrying Hamas militants early Sunday, then demolished arms factories belonging to two Palestinian groups, the army said, in a widening of reprisals against Gaza rocket squads.
In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatened tougher action if the intensified rocket fire on Israeli border communities didn't cease.
The sixth straight day of airstrikes came as an uneasy truce between warring Palestinian factions set in. Masked Hamas and Fatah gunmen who had controlled the streets and taken over apartment buildings in the previous week scaled back their presence sharply, and residents who had holed up at home seeking refuge from the gunbattles ventured out to stock up on supplies at busy shops.
Pope Benedict XVI urges peace
At the end of the Regina Coeli prayer Benedict XVI launched a strong appeal for an end to “clashes between Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and the launching of rockets against the populations of neighbouring Israeli cities”. The Pope underlined that these actions – which include “the armed intervention” by Israel - “are provoking the bloody deterioiration of the situation, and causing serious suffereing”.
“Once agian – he said – in the name of God, I urge an end to this tragic violence, while I express my solidarity with and closeness to the tried Palestinian and Israeli populations, whom I assure have a place in my prayers”.
Profile on Gaza Strip
The Gaza Strip is a narrow piece of land along the Mediterranean coast between Israel and Egypt. Just 40km long and 10km wide, it is home to more than 1.4m Palestinians.
The shape of the territory was defined by the Armistice Line following the creation of Israel in 1948 and the subsequent war between the Israeli and Arab armies.
New York Times: Truce may not be holding
url="http://www.theday.com/re.aspx?re=862d66e3-28e4-4efc-8c81-b8ad3eceb718"]Inside Gaza, factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah entered its second
week, despite the declaration of an internal cease-fire by political
leaders on Saturday afternoon — the fifth such declaration in the past
Israeli Plans going forward
There was a partial and probably temporary lull in fighting between Palestinians in Gaza during the weekend. Rocket firing at Israel also eased, as the air force continued hitting Hamas targets.
Today the cabinet will debate whether to carry on with the campaign or to discontinue it, in response to its success in deterring Hamas from firing. The prime minister, defense minister, chief of staff and Shin Bet head all agree that Israel should refrain from a large military operation in Gaza. At the moment, there is not sufficient public support for such a move and the government is not stable or confident enough to carry it out. Besides, it would take months to make a fundamental change in the situation in Gaza.
The interim solution is therefore the massive use of the air force against the Qassam launching units and Hamas headquarters.