Israel Plans Gaza ‘Take-Over’ as Hamas Refused to Attend Peace Talks in Cairo
By Sounak Mukhopadhyay | July 17, 2014 8:06 AM EST
Hamas has refused to take part in peace talks scheduled to be held in Cairo. Israel, on the other hand, is reportedly planning ground invasion of Gaza.
A Palestinian boy stands with his father as they look at the house of top Hamas political leader Mahmoud Zahar which police said was targeted by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City July 16, 2014. Israel resumed its air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday a day after holding its fire in deference to an Egyptian-proposed cease-fire deal that failed to get Hamas militants to halt rocket attacks. Attacks in the Gaza Strip killed at least seven Palestinians in the early hours of Wednesday, Gaza health officials said, and destroyed the house of Mahmoud Zahar - who is believed to be in hiding elsewhere - in the first apparent targeting of a top Hamas political leader. Gaza medical officials say 195 Palestinians, including at least 150 civilians, among them 31 children, have been killed. One Israeli has been killed in the fighting.
Egypt initiated to broker peace to end the on-going conflict between Israel and Palestine Authorities. However, Hamas officials said on Wednesday, July 16 that they would not go to Cairo to take part in any negotiation at the moment. Hamas earlier violated ceasefire on Tuesday after Israel did not engage in any offensive on Gaza for six hours. According to Hamas, the ceasefire was announced without consulting its authorities. It demanded that certain demands needed to be met before opting for any ceasefire.
While Hamas' decision of not taking part in peace talks may already result in more damage in Palestine, Israel's military indicated worse prospects as there could be a strong probability of ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. A senior official of Israeli military spoke to international journalists at the military headquarters in Tel Aviv on the condition that his name should be kept anonymous in accordance with military protocol. He said that the chances of invading Gaza were "very high." "If you want to efficiently fight terrorism you must be present, boots on the ground," he said.
The senior military official also said that it would not be a "huge challenge" for Israel to take over Gaza. According to him, Israeli military is capable of taking control of Gaza within "days or weeks." He, on the other hand, said that it would be more difficult to take control of the coastal territory, which might take "many months." Airstrikes are not enough to take control of the opposition, according to the official. "We can hurt them very hard from the air but not get rid of them," he said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was in Cairo for the scheduled peace talks. However, it may not be possible for Abbas to make any substantial commitment in the absence of Hamas. Israel has always maintained its stance that it is the terror tactics of Hamas that its government fights against.
Hamas officials clarified that they were not against the ceasefire if their demands were met. According to some experts, if Hamas' demands were met, it would ensure long-lasting peace in the region. Derestricting border crossings for the Palestine civilians is one of the major demands of Hamas.
Contact the writer: s.mukhopadhyay@IBTimes.com.au
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