Monday, July 03, 2006  

Countries behaving really, really badly

The situation in Gaza has passed horrific and is rapidly heading towards cataclysmic for allinvolved, If ever there was a no-win situation, this would be it.
It seems to have started with the kidnapping of Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (the military wing of Palestinian governing party Hamas), the Popular Resistance Committees (includes Palestinians from Fatah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas), and the Army of Islam and continues with Olmert's rejection of the group's demands to exchange Shalit for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Originally the request was to exchange Shalit for women and minors in Israeli jails but was later raised to 1,000 prisoners.
In the meantime, Israel has lauched strikes into Gaza and staged raids that picked up at least dozens of Hamas officials and others. At least 1/3 of the Palestinian cabinet is in Israeli custody.

According to Al Jazeera, Israel staged a raid in Ramallah in response to the abduction and murder of 18 year old Eliahu Asheri, by the Popular Resistance Committee, who dumped his body in the West Bank on Thursday.

Israeli strikes have left parts of the Gaza without electricity or water, in this, the largest offensive against the Gaza since the Israelis recently pulled out after a 38 year long occupation.

Israel may have declared (like several American presidents before) that they will not negotiate with terrorists but they have a history of prisoner exchange which usually involved several Israeli soldiers for many times more Palestinians.
In 1985 Israel agreed to the release of more than 1,150 Palestinian prisoners in return for three soldiers taken captive in Lebanon.

(the rest)

The response of both sides to the situation is hardly unexpected, but Israel has nade it very clear that Shalit's life is worth more than that of all the Palestinians within Gaza, because that is what collective punishments declares- X is of higher value than you all...
But this collective punishment also has the curious effect of suggesting that Israel recognizes Hamas as the official government elected by a people who have some control over their government, else why cause an entire area to suffer more than they already do?

While Hamas is following a well-established pattern by kidnapping Shalit, it seems that they are holding the nail that Israel is now pounding into what Olmert and others seem to hope is the coffin of Gaza. The deadline for freeing the prisoners has passed and Shalit has not been release and Israel pounds Gaza every night. Hamas seems to have badly misjudged Israel's willingness to negotiate, while Israell seems to have badly misjudged its response raining down on a region already sorely taxed by lack of funds, lack of water, incursions of the wall into Palestinian territory and a number of other things others can explain better than I.

The exchange of women and minors seems so little compared to the disaster unfolding now. If Israel thinks the Gaza is resentful now, when this is over, I suspect any will towards peace on the Gaza side, Muslims and Christians alike, will be in shreds.

Shalit isn't really the issue here, as flattering as it may seem, this show of force is Olmert's subconscious speaking, and it says, the least among our soldiers is worth more than your whole population.

Difficult to negotiate anything in a situation like that.

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