Gaza Strip: Mixed Message from Israel

November 10, 2006

After the devastating bombing of the Gaza Strip, which left 19 dead, Israel has had to respond to criticism of its military tactics.

Israeli PM Ehud Olmert has said the civilian deaths were the result of a technical failure. Civilians were not the targets in Israel’s offensive, but other such events “may happen,” the Prime Minister said. In making these remarks, Olmert indicated that no change of strategy would take place and that further bombings would take place. However, the Prime Minister also expressed hope in meeting with Abbas and suggested that the PA chairman would be surprised once he knows how much Israel is prepared to offer.

In the meantime, Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that the IDF will now have to get the approval of GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant and that the policy of shelling the Gaza Strip would be re-evaluated.

All this makes for a mixed message for the Palestinian Authority. While Olmert regretted the tragic deaths of Palestinian civilians, he hasn’t vowed to stop such events from happening again. Peretz has suggested that more caution will be used.

And Olmert has something to offer Abbas. But it’s interesting how the offer comes after a series of violent incursions into the Gaza Strip.

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