As Pope Benedict XVI calls for renunciation of violence during the holy season of Christmas, Israelis and Palestinians are on a bloody confrontation again in the Gaza Strip leaving at least 200 dead and injuring about 400 more. This is the result of heavy air strikes conducted by Israeli troops against militant Palestinian targets in Hamas-dominated territory a week after a 6-month ceasefire truce expired.
The resumption of bombings and killings on Saturday, December 27, 2008, is supposed to be Israel’s retaliation to months of Hamas’ mortar fires and indiscriminate rocket launches which terrorize about ¼ million Israelis who live in the area.
Hamas infrastructures and installations had been destroyed and many security officers were killed or hurt. Gaza residents had been on the state of panic as the death toll rose and the wounded victims flooded hospitals and clinics.
“The offensive sparked angry protests throughout the Arab world, and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Vatican, the U.N. secretary-general and special Mideast envoy Tony Blair all called for an immediate restoration of calm. The Arab League scheduled an emergency meeting Sunday to discuss the situation.”— YahooNews.com; AP (12/28/08 Barzak, Brahim)
Hamas, the radical group considered by Israel as a terrorist organization, called for revenge, but Isreali military authorities had been firm in their stance. In spite of the call for calm, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed to widen the military offensive if needed. Israel did not set a time-line on when the air strikes would end.
The long-standing conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians has taxed peace-makers for decades, but a solution has been consistently elusive. Extremist Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East who support the Palestinians call for the annihilation of the State of Israel. (Photo Credits: AP/ Mohammed Zastari; AP/ Mohammed Zastari; AFP; AP/ Mohammed Zastari) =0=