The situation in Gaza is escalating quickly, and threatens to further complicate an increasingly confusing reality in the Middle East. The IDF, responding to relentless rocket attacks from Gaza, which reached a fever pitch this week, retaliated with airstrikes on key Hamas rocket installations as well as the targeted killing of Ahmed Al-Jaabari, the military head of Hamas. There have been casualties on both sides, with three Israeli civilians killed this morning, and a total of 13 Palestinians killed, many of whom were militants. This escalation is perhaps the closest Israel has come to commencing a ground operation against Gaza in a number of years. The IDF’s official twitter feed stated: “All options are on the table. If necessary, the IDF is ready to initiate a ground operation in Gaza”. To further reinforce this point, the IDF has activated reserve units, signifying the country is ready to take direct action. This has been the first test of Israel’s rocket defense system, and all reports point (except for PressTV’s, but that isn’t a surprise, right?) to it working effectively and destroying around 30 Hamas rockets. Through the night, the Israeli Air Force continued their attacks on installations believed to be rocket launch sites within Gaza, and all indicators suggest that these attacks will not cease until Hamas stops launching rockets.
This new conflict has cooled off relations between Egypt and Israel, with Egypt recalling their ambassador, and the Israeli ambassador going back home on what was referred to as a ‘routine’ trip. The UN Security Council, in its typical fashion, called for an end to the violence without actually suggesting any solutions or hinting at any action. Both Israeli and Palestinian groups were present at the meeting, but don’t look for a solution to this issue to arise from the UN. The White House issued a statement earlier underscoring their beliefs in Israel’s right to self-defence and agreed Hamas needs to cease their attacks to encourage de-escalation.
Domestically, the NDP released a statement calling on “all sides to exercise restraint and respect international humanitarian law obligations to protect civilians at all times” and touting the benefits of a constructive approach to peace. Both the Bob Rae and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, John Baird, came out with strongly worded press releases, calling for a complete halt to rocket attacks against Israel, and encouraging Hamas to cease their acts of terror while acknowledging the right of Israel to defend itself.
More to come….