Friday, June 30, 2006

Gaza under seige after soldier's kidnap

Sunday saw the abduction of an Israeli soldier and the death of two others at a border checkpoint. Since then, the escalation of retaliatory action by Israeli authorities has culminated in the bombing of the main power station in Gaza, the targeting of two bridges leading into the main town of Raffah and the Palestinian Authority Interior Ministry Building. The White House called on the Palestinians to release the hostage and the Israelis to hold back from extreme action and urged them to “shoe restraint”. But it was extreme action which was promised by the Israeli authorities, if the soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19, was not returned. The reaction by Palestinian militant groups was to increase the tension by kidnapping two Israeli settlers. One militant group showed an id card of one of the settlers and demanded Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza strip. The group holding the soldier threatened to execute the soldier if Israel did not withdraw. Israel continued to assert its authority with the buzzing of the parliament buildings in Syria which is seen as having strong ties to Hamas and is currently paying host to one of its exiled leaders. The planes were chased out of Syrian airspace by the Syrian Airforce. And so by Thursday there existed a tense stand-off. And so to Friday. Saturation coverage of the ongoing bombardments has diminished – BBC24, Sky News and even CNN all spending a large proportion of airtime on World Cup Football and Wimbledon Tennis coverage. But besides continuing bombardments and an increase in political pressure from Israeli authorities, the soldier and an Israeli settler remain in Palestinian hands. The fate of 1 Israeli settler was sealed Friday, when his body was found on the West Bank. Jewish settler Eliyahu Asheri, 18, had been kidnapped by the Popular Resistance Committees. They have threatened further kidnaps and killings [CNN]. The third day of the Israeli campaign in Gaza followed Israel's arrests of dozens of Palestinian officials and heavy shelling of the territory Thursday. Israel announced on Friday that it was revoking the Jerusalem residency rights of four arrested Hamas officials. Israeli war planes hit the Palestinian Authority's Interior Ministry building in Gaza City early Friday. The Israeli military said the building was being used "for directing and planning terror activities." Later on Friday, 4 militants were targeted by an Israeli airstrike as they traveled in a car within northern Gaza. Some of the militants were said to have escaped injury according to latest reports from Reuters and relayed by Sky News. Meanwhile Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya has denounced Israel's offensive in Gaza as an attempt to bring down the Hamas-led government [BBC]. Protests have been seen Friday, both in Turkey and Gaza itstelf in support of the Hamas led goverment Posted by Picasa

No comments: