Monday, January 5, 2009

Israel launches Gaza ground offensive

Israel's decision to launch an expected ground offensive into the Gaza Strip on Saturday has sparked a flurry of diplomatic activity to enact a cease fire that expired last month. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly and Congressman Gary Ackerman [D-New York] traveled to Sderot near the Gaza border on Sunday. And his honor was forced to take shelter after a siren warned of a possible rocket attack.

The all too obvious political implications cannot go unstated as Bloomberg lays the ground work for his re-election campaign, but his trip to the Jewish state represents the global concern, outrage, solidarity and sympathy that continues to grow as the Israel Defense Forces expand its offensive and civilian casualties inside the Gaza Strip and in Southern Israel continue to grow. This escalation may raise the obvious (or less than clear) questions: How is this conflict any different those that have raged in the Holy Land for more than 60 years? Why should the international community continue to stick its neck into what can arguably be described as ongoing disputes between Israelis and Palestinians? Is there hope the seemingly never-ending conflict will end?

The answers to these questions are arguably obvious depending upon who provides them. One thing that can be said with utmost certainty is the scenes that continue to emerge from the Gaza Strip and southern Israel are extremely disturbing. Hamas and the IDF have a fundamental responsibility to ensure civilians on both sides of the border are not caught in this seemingly never-ending cycle of violence. To fail on this basic account is nothing short of criminal.

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