The Jordan Times (Opinion)
August 23, 2011 - 12:00am

Tension is flaring up again between Israel and Gaza, after the recent attacks by unknown assailants against Israeli vehicles along the Israeli border with Sinai, which killed and wounded a number of Israelis, both military and civilians, and between Israel and Egypt.

Israel’s knee-jerk response was to immediately send its military planes to strike Palestinian targets in Gaza Strip, killing and wounding a number of civilians, including children. Before that, Israeli forces killed five Egyptian soldiers on its border with Sinai, while allegedly in pursuit of attackers.

In reaction to this unprovoked attack on its soldiers, Egypt recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv and demanded an investigation, and an apology, from the Israeli government.

Hamas also reacted to the Israeli escalation by ordering rocket attacks against Israeli targets in southern Israel, including in the major Israeli city of Ashdod.

The obvious military implications of the developing tit-for-tat aggression aside, the political implications are worse.

The timing of the exchange of fire between Israelis and Palestinians, in Gaza, and between Israelis and Egyptians, in Sinai, cannot escape one.

Israel only has suspicions about the cross-border attacks in Eilat; it is not yet sure who the attackers were or where they came from. Still, based on the convenient assumption that the attackers were Palestinians from Gaza, the Israeli air force was quick to kill Egyptian soldiers and bomb Palestinians in the strip.

This is how Tel Aviv envisages restarting negotiations for peace in an attempt at thwarting the Palestinian attempt at attaining statehood.

The result is a fast-deteriorating situation along Israel’s borders with Egypt and Gaza, which is probably meant to take the limelight away from the impending Palestinian bid for UN recognition of an independent state next month.

Whoever really provokes tension between Israel and its western neighbours -Egypt and Gaza - must surely have in mind this historic move by the Palestinians.

Israel should not be allowed to escape responsibility for killing Egyptian soldiers. Hamas, on the other hand, should be careful not to fall into the trap set by the parties determined to torpedo the Palestinian endeavour to gain independence.

It is an old game the Palestinians should not engage in, proving that they learned the lessons of the past.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017