Israel, Palestinians hold fire, for now
Israel, Palestinians hold fire, for now
The tacit truce arrested an escalation to all-out fighting, but both sides remain armed and primed for another round in the unresolved conflict that has festered since Hamas Islamist fighters took over the enclave in 2007.
Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Gaza’s Hamas government, praised the main armed factions in the enclave for agreeing on Monday night to a truce.
“They showed a high sense of responsibility by saying they would respect calm should the Israeli occupation also abide by it,” he said.
Haniyeh spoke during an unannounced visit to a hospital to see wounded Palestinians. Some Israeli leaders say it is time to resume the controversial tactic of assassinating Hamas leaders.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consulted his inner circle of ministers in Jerusalem. One of them, Benny Begin, said the flare-up had subsided but the conflict was far from resolved.
“This round of firing appears to have ended and things must be looked at soberly without illusions for both sides,” he said.
“Action must be taken following much thought and I think this is what the prime minister is doing,” he told Israel Radio.
Three Palestinian fighters and four civilians have been killed by Israeli fire since Saturday, and 40 others wounded. Eight Israeli civilians were injured by some of the 115 rockets fired from Gaza and four soldiers were wounded by the anti-tank missile that hit their jeep and fueled the fighting.
An official involved in the Egyptian mediation confirmed both sides were ready to stop.
“The message was clear and Israel too told Egypt they were not interested in escalation if rocket firing stopped. The situation now is calm for calm and I hope it does not deteriorate,” the official told Reuters Israel struck three targets in the Gaza Strip in the early hours of Tuesday, including what the army said was a weapons depot and two rocket launch sites. There were no casualties.
Only one Palestinian rocket strike was reported in Israel by 10.00 a.m. (0800 GMT) on Tuesday.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told reporters Israel was not prepared to forgive and forget following four days of violence.
“The matter has definitely not ended and we will decide how and when to act at the time when there will be a need,” he said.
Israel has shown little appetite for a new Gaza war, which could strain relations with the new Islamist-rooted government in neighboring Egypt. The countries made peace in 1979.
But Netanyahu will be reluctant to seem weak ahead of a Jan. 22 election that opinion polls currently predict he will win.
Hamas is emboldened by the rise to power in Egypt of its spiritual mentors in the Muslim Brotherhood whom it views as a “safety net” that would stop an all-out Israeli onslaught.
The Palestinian Islamist movement believes it now presents a challenge that Israel’s military superiority cannot easily best.
“This assault and other assaults by the occupation will not break the will of the Palestinian people and their steadfastness in the face of barbaric Israeli attacks,” Haniyeh said.
Assad accused of ‘using urban development law to carry out ethnic cleansing’
- he so-called “Law 10” allows the regime to acquire previously private property in which to create zoned developments, and to compensate the owners with shares in the new projects.
- Many of the displaced have lost the necessary paperwork, are struggling financially or may not learn of the legal requirements in time.
JEDDAH: The Assad regime in Syria was accused on Saturday of using a new law on urban development to carry out and rid the country of all political opposition.
The so-called “Law 10” allows the regime to acquire previously private property in which to create zoned developments, and to compensate the owners with shares in the new projects.
However, after a seven-year war that has created more than 5 million refugees and 6 million internally displaced people, property rights are in a state of confusion. Many of the displaced have lost the necessary paperwork, are struggling financially or may not learn of the legal requirements in time.
The Assad regime is using the confusion to create a suitable environment for demographic change, Syrian opposition spokesman Yahya Al-Aridi told Arab News.
“The regime has a two-fold goal,” he said. “First, terrorize the opposition and supporters of the Syrian revolution so that they lose the right to their properties.
“Second, there is talk of reconstruction in Syria now. This law sends out a message to investors that their interests lie with the regime. It is an attempt to tempt companies and business people to support the regime, because the regime is the only party that approves bids and gives grants and contracts. All this merely adds to the Syrians’ plight and misery.”
Al-Aridi said the attempted land grab was being resisted by European countries, especially France and Germany. “The Syrian Negotiating Committee is also exerting a very important effort so that such an evil act will not happen,” he said.
Also on Saturday, the US warned Damascus it would take “firm action” if the regime violates a cease-fire deal, after Syrian aircraft dropped leaflets on a southern province in advance of an expected offensive.
Al-Aridi said any such offensive would be a breach of agreements between Russia and the US on de-escalation zones, and he warned the regime and Iran against “playing games” with the US. “Such threats are part of a response to the two unanswered Israeli attacks on Iran’s military positions in Syria,” he said.
“They area also meant to divert attention from the American-Israeli intent to kick Iranian militias and forces out of Syria.”
He said the regime and Iran could do nothing without Russian support. “We don’t think the Russians are willing to provide such support, or to mess with the US or Israel. Parallel to such threats, Assad is trying to make certain reconciliation agreements with what they call ‘Syrians in liberated areas.’ We believe that they cannot do anything of the sort.”