‘CAST LEAD’ – DAY 10 [01/05/2009]
* The 10th day of operation Cast Lead witnessed intensified counter attacks of Palestinian fighters from the besieged Gaza Town on Israeli forces on the outskirts. In at least one case a suicide bomber, who emerged from a tunnel dug from Gaza, tried to attack Israeli soldiers. According to Palestinian sources 58 Palestinians were killed in the fighting. In the clashes with the Palestinians 7 Israeli soldiers were wounded. Israel also took few dozens of Hamas operatives in captivity in order to interrogate them and, most likely, to exchange them later with the Israeli captive soldier Gilad Shalit (see – Army of Islam).
The worst event was when an Israel tank opened, accidently, “friendly fire” on Israeli troops, killed three and wounded 24 more. The shelling of Israeli towns, especially Ashkelon, with long range Grad missiles and bombardments of Israeli Air Force on Gaza Strip continued as usual.
* Turkey is a long time ally of Israel, with strong military and technological cooperation between the both countries and especially between defense and security apparatus. Turkey is also a mediator between Israel and Syria and is seeking to replace, to some extent, the EU in mediating between Israel and all other Middle East Arab countries. Despite that the Turkish PM Tayyip Erdogan attacked Israel in the strongest terms, blaming her for provoking the whole crisis from the beginning. In an interview to the Arab most influential TV network al-Jazeera, on Monday 12/05/2008, Tayyip Erdogan said “I consider Israel the one which provoked and incited, not Hamas”. In another interview to CNN Tayyip Erdogan put himself as a mediator between Hamas and Israel and said “As a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council, we could bring the conditions of Hamas for a ceasefire to the attention of the United Nations”. Turkey clearly abandoned its position as a fair mediator between Israel and Arabs. The strategic ties between the both countries, for the benefit of both, were severely undermined. By the way while lashing out on Israel – Turkish Army does almost the same against Kurdish rebels in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.
* Egypt refuses to accept Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal but a delegation of other Hamas leaders: Imad al-Alamy, the mastermind of Mikes Place attack in Tel Aviv, on 04/30/2003, and Ossama Hamdan the spokesmen of Hamas in Beirut, arrived to Egypt in an attempt to renew Egyptian mediation. Although speaking pompously, commentators consider the move as a going to Canossa of Hamas leadership given their uncensored attacks on Egypt. Egypt also made it clear that, this time, Gilad Shalit is on the table as a part of the bargain and not on Hamas conditions. Hamas finally realized that not UN, EU, the Quartet, the Arab League, Turkey or even the French President can provide a cease fire but only Egypt, which is so far, the main beneficiary of operation Cast Lead.
* The French President Nikola Sarkozi arrived to Israel, on Monday 01/05/2008 evening, on a visit which includes the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon in order to promote a political arrangement that will lead to a sort of a cease fire. Nikola Sarkozi repeated his statement in which he condemned Israeli incursion but basically blamed the Hamas in Gaza for the general deterioration and the poor conditions in Gaza. Israel made clear that it had no intention to stop the operation until the goals are achieved. The general strategy of Israel is to form an international coalition of Egypt, Palestinian Authority, the Quartet and other international segments to form an inspection and supervision mechanism “not with Hamas but against Hamas”, as Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni put it.
* In Israel there are first signs of disagreement in the Cabinet whether the careful, slow strategy of excessive shelling and bombardments with the minimum and slow usage of ground troops is really leading to the desirable outcome. It is clear that the political time of Israel is running out and 11 days of constant shelling of Hamas on Israeli towns begin to remind many Israelis of the summer 2006 war against the Hizbullah in Northern Israel, which eventually was an Israeli failure.
*** See daily reports – Cast-Lead Diary ***