Olmert: Gaza Op to Continue, U.N. Security Council resolution Not Practical

Daily News Article   —   Posted on January 9, 2009

(Herb Keinon, AP and JPost.com staff, jpost.com) – Despite the UN Security Council resolution calling for a Gaza cease-fire, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Friday afternoon that the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] operation in the [Gaza] Strip would continue.

“Israel has never agreed to external forces determining its right to defend its citizens,” Olmert said in a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office following the Security Cabinet discussion on the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] resolution.

“The IDF will continue to work to defend Israeli citizens and will carry out all the objectives it was given in the operation,” he continued.

Olmert said that the rocket fire from Gaza Friday morning “only proves that the UN resolution is not practical and will not be honored by the murderous Palestinian organizations.”

Earlier on Friday, Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni convened for a preliminary consultation on the UNSC Gaza truce resolution ahead of the Security Cabinet meeting.

Livni also released a statement on Friday morning regarding the resolution in which she stressed Israel’s independence in defining its goals.

“Israel’s past, present and future actions are based solely on its considerations, the security of Israel’s residents and its right to self-defense,” she said.

Meanwhile, speaking on Army Radio, Trade, Industry and Labor Minister Eli Yishai didn’t rule out the possibility that the US abstention from Thursday night’s UNSC vote was a result of pressure from “certain senior Israeli officials.” He also blasted the UNSC resolution which, according to Yishai, supported Hamas terror.

“The world is acting as a Hamas lobbyist [but] will understand, despite the UNSC resolution, that we must act with all our force to achieve our goals, to bring quiet to the South,” said Yishai.

Israel Radio also quoted a senior official as saying that a decision regarding the resolution needn’t be reached on Friday, and that Israel could wait to see whether its demands regarding a cease-fire will be met.

Osama Hamdan, a Hamas envoy to Lebanon, also rejected the UNSC call for a cease-fire, telling the al-Arabiya satellite channel that the group “is not interested in it because it does not meet the demands of the movement.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the UN failed to consider the interests of the Palestinian people. “This resolution doesn’t mean that the war is over,” he told the al-Jazeera satellite television network. “We call on the Palestinian fighters to mobilize and be ready to face the offensive, and we urge the Arab masses to carry on with their angry protests.”

 

Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from the Jerusalem Post. Visit the website at jpost.com. 

Questions

1.  How did Israeli Prime Minister Olmert respond to the United Nations’ Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip?

2.  What did Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni say about Israel’s actions in the conflict with Hamas?

3.  a) Define justified.
b) A third Israeli government official, Eli Yishai aid that Israel “must act with all our force to achieve our goals, to bring quiet to the South [of Israel]. Do you think that Mr. Olmert, Tzipi Livni and Mr. Yishai are justified in opposing the U.N.’s demand that they agree to a cease-fire? Explain your answer.

4.  How did spokesmen for Hamas respond to the U.N.’s resolution calling for a cease-fire?

5.  First, read the two paragraphs below, then answer the following question:  Critics blame Israel for the deaths of innocent Palestinian civilians and demand that Israel stop all military action against Hamas. Should Hamas bear any of the blame for the deaths of Palestinian civilians?  Explain your answer.

On December 19, 2008 when a six-month cease-fire between the Hamas-led government of Gaza and Israel ended, Hamas refused to extend the cease-fire on the grounds that Israel was continuing a blockade on Gaza. Hamas demanded that Israel open all of the Gaza border crossings. Israel refused on the grounds that Hamas was continuing its terrorist activities.  In response, Hamas began a major increase in rocket attacks into Israel, culminating with 80 rockets fired into Israel on Christmas Eve. These Hamas rockets were and continue to be aimed at Israeli civilians.  Israel then began its military action agains Hamas.  Israel’s goal of the military action is to get Hamas to stop terrorizing, injuring or killing Israelis by firing rockets into Israel. They also want the weapons smuggling tunnels between Gaza and Egypt closed. At this point, Hamas wants the Israeli military to open all borders, and to leave Gaza.

According to an AP report posted at Yahoo news:
“Hamas has said it won’t accept any agreement that does not include the full opening [of] Gaza’s blockaded border crossings. Israel is unlikely to agree to that demand, as it would allow Hamas to strengthen its hold on the territory which it violently seized in June 2007.  With Israeli troops now in control of many of the open areas used by militants to launch rockets, gunman have continued shooting from inside populated neighborhoods.  The conflict has left hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza increasingly desperate for food, water, fuel and medical assistance, and the situation was expected to worsen as humanitarian efforts fall victim to the fighting.”


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Background

ON THE ISRAELI-HAMAS CONFLICT: (most of this information is from wikipedia.org)

  • In 2005 Israel withdrew all troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip in an effort to establish peace with Palestinians. In 2007 Hamas took control of Gaza after defeating Fatah (the former majority party in the Palestinian government) in armed conflict. Fatah left the Gaza Strip and runs the Palestinian Authority from the West Bank. 
  • Following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, Israel sealed its border crossing with Gaza, on the grounds that Fatah was no longer providing security, and imposed a blockade on the territory, except for humanitarian aid. (Egypt also closed its border with the Gaza Strip when fighting between Fatah and Hamas started on June 7, 2007.)
  • On December 19, 2008 when a six-month cease-fire between the Hamas-led de facto government of Gaza and Israel ended, Hamas refused to extend the cease-fire on the grounds that Israel was continuing a blockade on Gaza.  Hamas demanded that Israel open all of the Gaza border crossings.
  • Israel started the operation against Hamas following a major increase in Hamas rocket attacks into Israel, culminating with 80 rockets fired into Israel on Christmas Eve. These Hamas rockets were and continue to be aimed at Israeli civilians.
  • Israel is targeting Hamas military targets. The Israeli government says that the attacks are being undertaken in order to destroy Hamas’ capability and motivation to launch future similar attacks on Israel.
  • A Hamas spokesman said this week that it would not talk about a permanent cease-fire so long as Israel continued its “occupation,” and would instead continue the “resistance.” He said that Hamas stands by its demand that Israel immediately halts its offensive, withdraws from the Gaza Strip, and opens all of the border crossings.

THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY’S RULING POLITICAL PARTIES:
The Palestinian Authority is currently ruled by two parties, Fatah and Hamas. Hamas holds the majority of seats in the Palestinian Parliament and the office of Prime Minister.  Fatah holds a minority of seats in the Parliament, and the office of President.

Fatah ruled the Palestinian Authority from its establishment in 1994 until 2006. [Yasser Arafat was the head of Fatah until his death in 2004.]  Fatah is a major secular Palestinian political party. … [Since its loss in 2006 as the ruling party] it has … been described oftentimes in the media as the more “moderate” party, although many dispute this due to its past actions and current policies. (from Wikipedia.org)

Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist terrorist organization that currently (since January 2006) forms the majority party of the Palestinian Authority…. Hamas is known outside the Palestinian territories for its suicide bombings and other attacks directed against Israeli civilians, as well as military and security forces targets. Hamas’ charter…calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and its replacement with a Palestinian Islamic state in the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. … In January 2006, Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections….  (from Wikipedia.org)

Resources

For background information on Hamas click here.

For a map of Israel and the Gaza Strip, go to wsj.com.