Israel attacks schoolchildren

After the suicide bombing attacks at the weekend, carried out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which left 34 people dead and around 200 injured, Israel unleashed its military might against Palestinian security posts in Gaza and Cisjordan.

The result was three people dead, one of them a child, and 150 injured, 60 of whom were schoolchildren. The Israeli authorities claimed that these attacks were “part of the foreseen operations” against Palestinian targets.

Islamic Jihad replied to these attacks with the message: “After these bombings, the Zionist enemy will only have to wait. Our reply will come and it will be at the same level as their attacks and crimes”.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres declared that “we must always leave the door open for dialogue” and underlined that “we do not want to eliminate Arafat”. However, the spokesperson for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Raanan Gissin, declared: “We have to negotiate with the Palestinian people and we think we should give him an opportunity to achieve peace. If he (Arafat) cannot manage this, maybe another leader can”, in a clear reminder that Tel Aviv’s patience is running low with the President of the Palestine Authority.

The European union has called on Israel to use a measured response to the terrorist attacks, while US Secretary of State Colin Powell urged Tel Aviv to contemplate the “implications” of its actions against the Palestinians. While it has been Israel’s policy to put the adage “an eye for an eye” into practice, the fear is that the conflict will escalate as Hamas and Islamic Jihad raise the stakes with a constant stream of suicide bombers.

While Israel chose its targets carefully, namely Palestine Authority military and security posts in Jenin, Tulkarem, Salfit, Ramallah and Bethlehem in Cisjordan, and in the Gaza Strip, the city of Gaza and the town of Jan Yunes, collateral civilian casualties were very high, a factor that is likely to inflame the Palestinian extremists into further action.