As children in the United States and Canada look to the sky to watch fireworks heralding in their National Days, these Palestinian children look up at Israeli warplanes.
An Israel soldier was captured by extremists in the Gaza Strip earlier this week…Israel blamed Hamas. Yes, Hamas is guilty… guilty of not being allowed to form a government that can govern. Guilty of not being recognised by Israel, the United States and the European Union. How does Israel punish the guilty party?.. By arresting 64 members of Hamas in the occupied territories, including a third of the Palestinian cabinet and 23 legislators.This is supposed to reflect a change in Israel’s policy towards the Hamas government… from non-recognition to destruction.
Israel will do everything in its power to destroy Hamas’ ability to govern, and then will blame them for not dealing with the situation.
Hamas is presently between a rock and a hard place, totally helpless and unable to prove their willingness to help get the release of the soldier in question. The world must not sit idely by and allow Israel to continue destroying the government, the land and the people of Palestine.
As the title states, June goes out like a lion…. let us see July come in like a lamb.
This one is from today’s on-line New York Times edition… text is below…
Seizures Show New Israel Line Against Hamas
By STEVEN ERLANGERPublished: June 30, 2006
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Friday, June 30 .. Israeli troops seized 64 members of Hamas in the West Bank on Thursday, including a third of the Palestinian cabinet and 23 legislators, a move that Israeli officials said indicated a significant change in Israel’s policy toward the Hamas government.
The seizures are partly intended to warn Hamas leaders that they could lose their power and liberty, if not their lives, unless they act to release a captured Israeli soldier, a senior Israeli military official said. But Israel has also concluded that Hamas, which had largely kept to a cease-fire before, is now openly engaged in violent acts against Israel and must be treated differently.
It was unclear what would happen to those held if the Israeli soldier were released, but the officials described the seizures as part of a plan well beyond seeking that.
In and near Gaza, Israeli forces held their positions on Thursday night, appearing to pause in an expected ground assault but continued to pound northern Gaza with artillery fire. Early Friday, the Palestinian Interior Ministry was set on fire by an Israeli airstrike.
In explaining the shift toward Hamas, Israeli officials said Thursday that they had agreed to let Palestinian parliamentary elections go ahead five months ago, despite the participation of Hamas, under American pressure.
Hamas won the elections and formed a government that Israel and its allies have worked to weaken, especially through economic pressure, in an effort to get it to recognize Israel and forswear violence.
“So long as they were smart enough not to openly exercise terror, no one touched them,” said the senior Israeli military officer. “But now they’ve gone back to it, so we have the right to deal differently with this terrorist government and try to remove them.”
The Israeli defense minister, Amir Peretz, said Thursday: “The masquerade ball is over. The suits and ties will not serve as cover to the involvement and support of kidnappings and terror.”
The Israelis cited Hamas’s firing of Qassam rockets beginning this month, its public declaration that the cease-fire with Israel was over and its open involvement in the raid into Israeli territory early Sunday that resulted in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers and the capture of a wounded corporal, Gilad Shalit, 19.
The seizures of the Hamas political leaders, under criminal law, for alleged membership in a terrorist organization and involvement in terrorist acts, were approved this week by the attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, “because he agreed that the public interest has changed, and there are moments a state can say, ‘We have a public interest in activating the criminal law,’ ” said Jacob Galanti, the Justice Ministry spokesman, in an interview.
“When you see Qassams flying every day and the event on the Gaza border,” Mr. Galanti said, the policy changes. “It’s true, we knew they were members of Hamas before they ran for office, and for the last six months we know they are in the Parliament. I’m not sure they had any immunity, but officials came to Mazuz and said that the public interest had changed, so they wanted a legal tool to take care of the problem.”
All those seized will be able to have lawyers and will appear in court as in other criminal trials, Mr. Galanti said, like the one successfully prosecuted against the Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted in 2004 of conspiracy to murder.
Jihad al-Wazir, who was the finance minister in the old Fatah government and deputy governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority, was one of those rousted out of bed early Thursday by Israeli soldiers in combat gear who hammered with their feet on his door.
“I tried to calm them down, and said, ‘Come in, come in,’ ” said Mr. Wazir, who lives in the elegant Gemzo Suites apartment building in Ramallah, just across from the headquarters of the Fatah faction.
Numerous Hamas ministers and legislators of the Palestinian Authority live there too, and they, like Mr. Wazir, were ordered to dress and come outside. Unlike Mr. Wazir, many of them were taken away, their hands cuffed.
Mr. Wazir said he knew why. “They’re raising the ante,” he said. “It’s not about releasing the soldier, it’s more sinister than that. It seems to me they’re going for the long haul.” But the result, he said, would actually “reinforce the radicals.”
Ali Jarbawi, a professor and dean at Birzeit University here, said he thought the real goal was to remove the Hamas government from power.
Israel wants to continue with its unilateral policies based on the idea that there is no “Palestinian partner,” said Mr. Jarbawi, who turned down an offer from Hamas to join the government as an independent. “If you build up your strategy on having no partner, then you have to ensure you don’t have one. So when Palestinians tell you that there is about to be a political agreement among the factions, putting their house in order at last, you intervene.”
Analysts say the crisis is also further weakening the position of the Palestinian Authority’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, known as Abu Mazen. Mr. Abbas, they say, is being pulled, and is pulling Fatah, closer to Hamas in the face of the Israeli threat, when he originally wanted to pull Hamas closer to Fatah.
“Abu Mazen is being squeezed by everyone, he’s being smashed,” Mr. Jarbawi said.
Menachem Klein, a political scientist at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University and an expert on Palestinian politics, sees Mr. Abbas pushed toward Hamas for two reasons. He cites the cold shoulder Mr. Abbas got from the new Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, which pushed Mr. Abbas “to try to empower himself domestically and build up a coalition against Olmert’s unilateral plans,” and the Israeli operation, which compels a united Palestinian front.
“The arrest of the Hamas politicians — Abbas and everyone understands that as a step against the government,” Mr. Klein said. “It’s part of a grand strategy, to undermine the Hamas government, that the Israeli cabinet decided upon in its first meeting after Hamas took power.”
Jonathan Fighel, a former colonel now at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, said the seized Hamas members were really a bargaining chip for the release of the soldier. Israel, he said, “has to collect cards for future negotiations.”
Mr. Jarbawi said with disgust: “Why do we need a Palestinian Authority at all? Just to disguise the occupation? If I were Abu Mazen, I’d say I’m a president without authority and dismantle it, and tell Israel: ‘You’re responsible. You pay.’ And then you should worry about a binational state.”