Unfortunately, mistletoe doesn’t hang over the Israeli border with Gaza.
Hamas won’t stop shelling nearby communities with Kassam rockets. So Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert—yeah, he’s still around—issued a “last-minute” warning to the Islamic Resistance Movement: stand down or force will be used.
His comments were the clearest indication yet that Israel was preparing a possible Gaza offensive which could result in heavy casualties on both sides and fuel a humanitarian crisis.
Israeli political sources said Olmert’s security cabinet approved a “staged” military escalation, beginning with air strikes against a wider range of Hamas targets in the densely-populated enclave.
A large-scale operation has yet to be authorized but could get a green light depending on Hamas’s response, the sources said.
In Gaza, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said Israel would “pay the price” for any attack.
Olmert told Al Arabiya television, an Arab broadcaster widely watched in Gaza: “I didn’t come here to declare war.”
“But Hamas must be stopped—that is the way it is going to be. I will not hesitate to use Israel’s might to strike Hamas and (Islamic) Jihad. How? I will not go into details now,” Olmert said, according to a statement issued by his office.
No one is winning in this quiet war. But never ceases to amaze me that the international community condemns any Israeli response to the rocket attacks against its own civilians.