Its been a particularly intense few months in Gaza, but recent events may have at least temporarily eased the siege on this region:
Late last week, an Israeli Deputy Defense Minister boasted that, should rocket attacks persist, the Israeli military would inflict a holocaust upon Gaza residents. It might not surprise onlookers that in light of this outrageous statement, the Israeli army is apparently pulling out of Gaza, and leaving a trail of destruction and death on its way out. To the skeptical, it appears that a public relations fiasco is now dictating Israeli military policy, but at this point, with over 100 Palestinians senselessly killed, the method of stopping the siege seems irrelevant.
I think that the basic premise of Israeli military policy is unreasonable. Security is an important issue, but if the Israelis demand an end to rocket attacks before they stop their own military incursions, they will be attacking Palestinians forever. I personally would love it if the rocket attacks ended, and from what I can tell, Fatah would also like these attacks to cease, but there is no way to reign them in. Fatah doesn’t have any control over or capacity to stop these rocket attacks and its hard to imagine that Israelis don’t know this. Hamas, I believe, could probably stop most of these attacks, but they’ve been politically marginalized by Israel and the US and have no reason to listen to reason. I think its clear, moreover, that military strikes are not having any positive effect.
Whether they know it or not, they have essentially painted themselves into a corner:
they will attack until the rockets are stopped,
but Fatah does not have the capacity or influence to stop the rockets,
so the rockets won’t stop no matter what they do,
and Israel must either continue attacking or risk looking hypocritical or weak.
This is not the ideal environment for either party to be in: Palestinians are dying every day while Israel is in a lose-lose situation. Unless Ehud Olmert miraculously realizes the futility of his strategy (or even grasps the concept that an eye for eye makes the world go blind), I don’t see any reason to believe this situation won’t repeat itself over and over throughout the summer and beyond.