The past year had seen much progress in the relations between Israel and Palestine. The Israelis withdrew from the Gaza strip, closed Israeli settlements there and talked of more settlement closures in the West Bank. Things began to turn when the Hamas party won a majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament; a setback for the more moderate Fata party. The militant wing of Hamas had committed most of the terrorist acts of the recent Intifada and Hamas as a whole has consistently refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist. That said, the voters of Palestine chose Hamas over the woefully corrupt and often ineffective, Fata party. Tensions were raised when Israel and the U.S. began putting pressure on Hamas and the Palestinian government to moderate their stance on Israel, backing up words with actions in the form of a financial blockade that has bankrupted the Palestinian government for 5 months now.
Hamas militants soon began lobbing inaccurate Katyusha rockets into southern Israel not hitting much of anything. In response Israel began lobbing rockets and shells into Gaza, recently inadvertantly killing an entire family who were enjoying a day at the beach. Two weeks ago, Hamas militants, sneaking into southern Israel through tunnels, captured an Israeli soldier and killed 2 others. I say captured despite the insistence of almost everyone to say he was kidnapped. I'm sorry, but civilians get kidnapped, soldiers involved in a military operation get captured. In response, Israel has launched an ongoing invasion and bombardment of Gaza, targeting among other things, civilian infrastructure such as bridges and a power station. They have lost a few more of their own soldiers and killed at least 20 Palestinian civilians in the process.
Finally, last week Hizbollah militants in southern Lebanon captured 2 more Israeli soldiers during a cross border raid. Israel retaliated by bombing Hizbollah strong points in southern Lebanon, which prompted Hizbollah to launch rockets into northern Israel, some reaching Haifa. In response, Israel has invaded southern Lebanon, bombed the Beirut airport (photo), instituted a blockade and is threatening Syria, which supports both Hizbollah and Hamas. This has already resulted in 55 civilian deaths in Lebanon. The fighting has escalated so quickly, that even the U.S. is urging restraint.
It seems illogical that when Hamas, etc. were targeting Israeli citizens with suicide bombs during the Intifada, Israel was responding by assasinating the leaders of Hamas, etc. Now that Hamas and Hizbollah are at least acting in a slightly more civilized manner by targeting Israeli troops, Israel is responding by targeting Palestinian and Lebanese civilians and the civilian infrastructure (bridges, power plants, etc.).
If Israel is hoping that the next time around Palestinian voters will exercise their democratic rights by electing more moderate leaders, this doesn’t exactly seem the right way to go about it.