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Israeli Air Assault on Gaza Severely Tests 1979 Peace Agreement between Israel and Egypt

By       Message Dave Lefcourt     Permalink
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Gaza City after Israeli Air assault kills Hamas Military Commander Ahmed al-Jabari.

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Photo by Mohammad Abed/AFP

Acting with impunity, Israel sent an air assault into Gaza city yesterday killing Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari. Other areas of the city were also bombed. As this is written the air assault continues with Israel making threats of a possible ground attack.

Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Avital Leibervitz said the assault was a campaign "defending the people of Israel who have been under rocket attack and crippling terrorist organizations' capabilities".

Last night Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi recalled his country's ambassador to Israel in protest against the Israeli assault.

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This morning in a radio address to the Egyptian people Morsi stood by the Palestinians against what he described as Israeli aggression stating, "The Egyptian people, the Egyptian leadership, the Egyptian government and all of Egypt is standing with all its resources to stop this assault, to prevent the killing and bloodshed of the Palestinians". Further he made it clear, "Israel must realize that we don't accept this aggression and it could only lead to instability in the region and has a major impact on stability and security in the region."  

Also this morning, Morsi spoke with President Obama to discuss strategies to "stop these acts and doings and the bloodshed and aggression". Obama agreed to speak with Israeli leaders. The White House issued a statement saying, "The president spoke with Egyptian President Morsi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging the importance of working to de-escalate the situation as the situation as quickly as possible", while adding Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks (the standard U.S. government boiler plate response always defending Israeli aggression and its disproportionate military response).

But let's get past all the "diplomatic posturing" statements regarding the Israeli assault and look at some of the problems and issues this attack by Israel raises:

First and foremost it is ludicrous that Hamas, the legitimately elected government in Gaza is a threat to Israel. Yes Hamas has made statements Israel has no right to exist and Hamas has sent rockets into Israel proper in retaliation against Israeli aggression. Yet Hamas has made it known it wants peace negotiations with Israel but Israel brands it as a terrorist organization and refuses to negotiate.

As for Israel being threatened its IFD, Israeli Defense Force is the most modern and fully equipped military force in the entire Middle East. It has no equal in the area. In its invasion of Gaza 4 years ago with tanks and planes there was no Palestinian force capable of resisting that assault. The Palestinians suffered 1400 civilian deaths in 22 days of Israeli aggression.

Since the 2006 election bringing Hamas rule over Gaza, Israel has imposed an embargo that severely limits and controls all goods and materials entering Gaza. Israel maintains a total sea embargo preventing all shipping entering Gaza waters.

Gaza is essentially an open air prison of some one and half million people. Only the "Rafah" border crossing connecting Gaza with the Egyptian Sinai remains open but it too is severely restricted to people and goods entering and leaving Gaza.

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Now with former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak no longer on the scene and Morsi the freely elected president of the Egyptian people, the 1979 peace agreement between Egypt and Israel could be severely tested with this latest Israeli assault. As Morsi acknowledged in his address to the Egyptian people this morning, he and they side with the plight of the Palestinian's and condemn the Israeli occupation and disproportionate military actions.

It's an open question what formal action Morsi will take beyond recalling his ambassador to Israel. Morsi will surely be under pressure from his newly emboldened people to act in support of the Palestinians.

War of course between Egypt and Israel is highly unlikely but that Rafah border crossing into Gaza could be fully opened to people and goods passing through acting as a sort of pressure relief valve. It could also serve to bring Islamic militants and armaments creating an element that could get Israel to overreact and bring another lethal ground attack into Gaza.

The Israeli's are pressing the envelope with this latest air assault. It assures the tinder box IT created will only become more likely to explode. Yesterday's assault and continuing action could be the spark that ignites it.    


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