222 to 4 !
222 to 4.
That the score in the Gaza border war since the end of the Annapolis "peace" conference.
Since November, Israel has killed 222 Palestinians. The Palestinians have killed 4 Israelis.
In the last two days, the score has been 31 to 1. At least 11, and probably more, of the Palestinians killed, have been innocent civilians. So has the lone Israeli.
Who started it?
Who cares !!!
The goal should be to stop it. But neither side seems really interested in that.
The Israelis could agree to negotiate with Hamas. To do a prisoner exchange to get back private Shalit. To include them in the peace talks with Abbas. To sign a separate Hudnah (armistice), which Hamas has loudly hinted it is willing to do.
What Hamas wants at this point is respect. They want to be in the game; not shunted aside, as Israel, the U.S. and Abbas hope. That they don't give a sh*t about the (short term) lives of ordinary Gazan's is shown by their determination to counter every Israeli move with an escalation of rockets. They seem to be determined to force Israel to negotiate with them, or die trying. Or to get Israel to re-invade Gaza, so they can give up responsibility for the miserable lives of the people, and at the same time start killing more Israeli soldiers. So far the people in Gaza seem to be going along. Pride is a powerful emotion.
Today, Hamas escalated the the game yet again. For the first time it fired medium range Iranian made Grad missiles into Ashkelon. These are not the homemade, very short range Qassam rockets they have used till now. And Ashkelon with 125,000 people, is not Sderot with 15,000 people.
Predictably Israel responded with heavy aerial bombing. 18 Palestinians were killed. Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai promised the Gazan's a Shoah (holocaust) if they continued rocketing into Israel. Tomorrow, no doubt, Hamas will increase its rockets into Israel.
We know what Hamas wants to achieve in this border war. But what does Israel want? It seems it wants to break Hamas completely. To force them to just give up. Or maybe it is hoping the Gazan people will become so miserable that they will rise up against Hamas and overthrow them. But miserable people do not rise up. They brood and hate. And their hate is more likely directed at Israel than Hamas.
Maybe if Israel would settle for peace and quiet along the border, a deal could be done.
But Israel does not believe in talking to "terrorists" (Or so it says this week.)
So the escalation will ramp up dangerously over the next days and weeks.
Oh, and by the way, you can kiss that Annapolis "peace" deal between Israel and Abbas goodbye. No one will seriously negotiate a long term peace while this is going on. But that's probably just hunky-dory with both Hamas and the current Israeli leadership. Both would rather stand on "principles".
For more background see this story from Reuters.