Israel Threatens Disproportionate Response

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In a recent press conference, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has stated that Israel will respond to continuing Hamas rocket fire with a, “severe and disproportionate response”. This comes only days after rocket fire on southern Israel killed one soldier and injured three others near the Kissufim border crossing. Israel responded with air raids and a brief ground incursion by infantry and tanks.

“We won’t return to the rules of the game that terror groups have tried to dictate and we won’t be dragged into a never-ending shooting war,” was Olmert’s explanation to cabinet as to why this threat was being made. This flare up in hostility comes not a month after Israel declared a unilateral cease fire for its operations in the Gaza Stip. The recent campaign killed 1285 Palestinians, mostly civilians according to the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights. According to the Israeli government 13 Israelis were killed in the conflict 3 of them civilians, 4 of the Israelis killed by friendly fire.

Israel was severely chastised by the international community for its recent actions with some countries, mostly in the developing world cutting diplomatic ties with Israel. The statement from the Israeli Prime Minister comes after a Sunday morning rocket attack where at least two rockets exploded in Israel, no casualties or damage was reported. One of the stated aims of Israel during its most recent 22 day campaign was to end rocket fire from the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip through disproportionate force.

Both Ehud Barak, the minister of defence and Tzipi Livni foreign minister, who are possible replacements for Olmert after the upcoming February 10th elections made their positions clear in statements backing the use of disproportionate force. Ms. Livni stated that, “Israel will respond whether the Qassam [rocket] causes injuries or not, and this is how I will act as prime minister as well. We must use force and a lot of force.” Mr. Barak concurred saying that, “Hamas was given a very serious blow and if necessary it will be given another blow.”

The most recent campaign into Gaza came directly prior to the inauguration of US President Obama, the most recent conference comes days prior to the February 10th Israeli elections. Hamas accused the Israeli’s of using this news conference¬† as a “campaign stunt,” to shore up votes from the Israeli people. This rise in aggression from both Hamas and Israel comes at the same time as Egypt is attempting to broker a long term peace deal between the two sides.

In tandem with the government releases the front runner for the Prime Ministership released his own statements regarding both the Gaza conflict and Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the Likud party stated that, “Iran will not be armed with a nuclear weapon. That is a fact.” Israel and America along with many of their allies have accused Tehran of enriching uranium for weapons, Tehran claims that it is for civilian energy production only. Netanyahu has also argued that the war, which he was not an architect of, was not long or brutal enough and should have continued until Hamas was eliminated.

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