HAMAS Makes Demands

photo - carnegie-mec.orgThe HAMAS rocket assault on Israel continued throughout Monday, with over 100 rockets fired from Gaza, with no Israeli casualties were reported. The death toll in Gaza, however, has risen to 105, many of them civilians including women and children.

With international media making great play over the civilian casualties from Israeli bombardment, both the Israeli and Western governments have been at pains to point out that the armed confrontation was initiated by HAMAS. Further, HAMAS has deliberately sited its weaponry and bases of operation in civilian areas, virtually guaranteeing in advance that any retaliation by Israel will result in civilian deaths.

Israel has maintained that while HAMAS deliberately launches its attacks indiscriminately against civilian areas, its own military actions are surgical strikes, directed solely at HAMAS bases, ordnance and rocket emplacements. Any injuries or deaths of non-combatants result entirely from the HAMAS policy of deliberately positioning its weaponry in or near civilian dwellings.]

Sometimes, though, things do appear to go wrong, as happened when Israeli forces attempted to bomb the home of high-ranking HAMAS leader Yehiya Rabiyah, head of the HAMAS rocket-launching forces. Instead, the strike destroyed the home of Gaza police officer Mohamed Dalou, killing 9 members of his family including 4 children. While this may have resulted from an intelligence failure, it highlights the sacrifices that HAMAS is prepared to demand of the people of Gaza in order to hamper Israeli operations, and to expose Israel to international opprobrium.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government appears to be entirely unfazed by this tactic, however, and has reinforced its determination to press on with its air operations. Israel has also reiterated its readiness to launch ground operations against HAMAS, and has mobilized 75,000 reservists for that purpose.

In the meantime, Israeli air and naval forces continued their own bombardment of Gaza, launching 80 airstrikes on Monday.

This number brings to over 1300 the total number of strikes and sorties against HAMAS targets in and around Gaza since Wednesday.

HAMAS continues its defiant rhetoric, attempting to convince its friends that HAMAS is winning the confrontation, humbling its powerful enemy and forcing Israel to sue for a cease fire. The calls for a cease fire, however, are actually coming from the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, the Arab League and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

This has not stopped HAMAS from issuing demands as if it were in control of the situation. In exchange for a cease fire HAMAS wants Israel to unconditionally cease air attacks and bombardments, end its long-running embargo of Gaza, stop targeting HAMAS leaders with drone strikes and other operations, and expand areas where Palestinian fishermen are permitted to ply their trade. HAMAS has not indicated that it will make any concessions to Israel in return. Israel wants HAMAS to cease its rocket attacks and agree to establish a buffer zone to protect Israeli civilians.

In reply, Israel’s President Shimon Peres said: “They (HAMAS) can stop the suffering in one second … Stop shooting, and that’s it.”

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