Mon, December 29, 2008
World > Middle East > Israeli assault on Hamas

Israeli offensive against Gaza may renew violence cycle

2008-12-28 00:27:49 GMT2008-12-28 08:27:49 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

JERUSALEM, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- The Israeli military offensive against Gaza, currently ruled by the Islamic Hamas movement, can never be a final end to the conflict between them but may renew their violence cycle, said political analysts.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) carried out massive air strikes against dozens of targets in Gaza early Saturday, reportedly killing more than 200 people and injuring another several hundred in response to Hamas ongoing cross-border rockets attacks.

Dubbed as "Operation Cast Lead", the ongoing military action, which possibly involve potential ground operation, could be the first climax in a new round of violence between the Jewish State and Hamas, the analysts worried.

About 80 Israel Defense Forces (IDF) warplanes and helicopters took part in the Saturday assault and over 100 bombs were dropped on scores of Hamas compounds, bases and weaponry storage facilities, leaving 205 people dead and hundreds wounded.

This is the harshest Israeli assault on Gaza since the territory was captured during the Six-Day War in 1967. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Saturday evening that the operation was aimed at restoring calm to the lives of Israel's southern residents.

Some Israeli experts held that the military offensive was pushed by the public anger over Hamas' incessant rockets attacks.

"The public's anger pushed the politicians to make up their mind of launching this massive military operation," Klieman Aharon, senior research associate in Jafee Center for Strategic Studies, told Xinhua.

"Israeli government intends to restore a prolonged lull along the Gaza border as well as to abolish the Hamas regime, which has fired more than 3,000 rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli targets in the southern Negev region during the past year," Aharon said.

Nearly 200 Katyusha, Qassam rockets and mortar shells have been fired at the southern part of Israel since Hamas said it would not renew the tahadiyeh, or lull, with Israel that had expired on Dec.19.

In fact, the decision of launching the massive assault was approved in Israeli cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Till Saturday morning, a final decision on the precise timing of the operation was made after consultations among Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and the IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and army generals.

Inbar Efraim, Director of Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies in Bar Ilan University, also held that the domestic pressure mounted from the Qassam rockets attacks.

The Israeli government is eager to stop any Qassam threat to its civilians to bring quiet to the people living in the south after the Egyptian-brokered six-month ceasefire with Hamas ended this month, he said, adding that the Israel can no longer put up with the ongoing fire of Qassams from the coastal Gaza Strip.

In the wake of the launch of the military operation against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Israel's three main parties announced that they suspend their election campaigns.

Barak said he is halting his involvement in the Labor Party's election campaign ahead of the general election in February, adding that he will focus the entire attention on defense activity.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Chairwoman of her Kadima party, pledged that "there is no other option than a military operation."

Likud party also decided to suspend its election campaign that was scheduled to start on Sunday in order to offer its support to IDF soldiers and commanders.

"The politicians, showing a rare solidarity in military actions in the Gaza Strip, are all under pressure of the public opinion, but everything is measured for the political benefit," said Aharon.

On Saturday evening, the IDF was beefing up forces around the Gaza Strip in preparation of a possible ground operation, while Barak and Ashkenazi were holding consultations on the army's next step of action.

Barak told a press conference earlier in the day in Tel Aviv that the IDF would deepen and widen its offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip as much as needed.

In a quick response, the international community have called for Israeli restraint, though Livni instructed diplomats stationed abroad to immediately mount public relations campaigns in an effort to garner support for its military operations.

However, Alpher Yossi, Professor of Political Science in Tel Aviv University, considered that "the military operation will stop the rockets attacks for a while, but in the end, we have to go back to negotiations with Hamas."

"There is no military solution to the violence cycle," he stressed.

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