‘CAST LEAD’ – DAY 9 [01/04/2009]
* Israeli military tightened its grip on Gaza Town and imposed an effective siege on the town from all around. Israeli soldiers, now, control all the open areas around Gaza Town and buildings on the edge. Israel also fully disconnected Gaza from the rest of Gaza Strip while other forces, in the south, took over all the areas bordering with Egypt (see – Cast-Lead 8). One Israeli soldier was killed in the military operation and more then 25 Palestinians. The total number of Palestinian fatalities, since the beginning of the operation, reached 520. About 20% of the casualties are non fighting civilians. Israel assured political leaders all over the world to avoid any humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
* The Hamas managed to launch over 45 rockets toward Israel from the built and densely populated areas of Gaza which are not, yet, under Israeli control.
* Tomorrow, Tuesday 01/06/2008, the French President Nikola Sarkozi is scheduled to visit Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah in order to promote a political arrangement that will lead to a sort of a cease fire. Ahead of his visit Sarkozi made a statement in which he condemned Israeli incursion but basically blamed the Hamas in Gaza for the general deterioration and the poor conditions in Gaza. Tony Blair, the former UK PM and now the Quartet (UN, USA, EU, Russia) envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, got a ‘green light’ from Israeli PM Ehud Ulmert to promote the formation of an international mechanism to supervise any future cease fire in Gaza and especially the border between Gaza and Egypt. Russia and its president Dimitry Medvedev agreed in a phone call with Israeli PM that no country in the world can tolerate a daily bombardment of its citizens for years.
* On the other side the Hamas spokesman in Damascus declared that Hamas is willing to negotiate cease fire “any where, at any time without any precondition”, which is a clear change in Hamas position that conditioned any talks on cease fire with initial halt in Israeli military operation. A Hamas delegation from Syria is scheduled to arrive to Egypt, on Monday 01/05/2008, in an effort to reach a cease fire agreement before a total collapse of the Hamas in Gaza.
* During the 9th day of operation Cast Lead the public demonstrations against Israel all over the Western democracies went on and even intensified. The largest anti Israeli rally took place in Rabat, Morocco with over 50,000 demonstrators.
* To sum it up – Israel has still a sort of a political understanding in the international community to go on in its military operation but the public pressure on politicians is slowly mounting and, eventually, the time of Israel is limited to days not to weeks. Israel must finish its operation before the 01/20/2009, when Barack Obama is scheduled to be sworn in as USA president. Israel knows it, Hamas knows it and so does the world.
*** See daily reports – Cast-Lead Diary ***