Sunday, April 10, 2005
By Ghassan Andoni
Updated Sunday, 10 April 2005
Sunday, 10 April 2005
On Saturday afternoon, Israeli soldiers stationed near the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah opened fire at a group of Palestinian children playing soccer at an open field, killing three of them.
Army early claims were that the three were part of a weapon's smuggling group, but later Israel extended an apology to the Palestinian Authority, saying that soldiers who fired at the kids and their officers are being interrogated.[As if fourteen year old kids involved in smuggling somehow justifies killing them}
In response, Palestinian resistance in Gaza fired a dozen of local made Qassam shells at Israeli settlements and army positions causing no casualties.
Many resistance leaders warned that "the calm period can't stand as army continue killing Palestinian children"
When an Islamic Jihad operative carried out Tel Aviv bombing two weeks after the truce was declared in the Sharm Al-Sheikh summit, Israel responded by military and political means. As army invaded several villages around the West bank city of Tul-Karim, Israel refused to continue with handing West Bank cities to the Palestinian Authority.
Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are concerned that Tension could mount again following the incident, threatening the fragile two moths long truce.
From its side, the Palestinian Authority started with immediate talks with resistance leaders in an effort to restore calm and prevent further escalations.
The incident type and timing are puzzling. Time wise, It came on the eve of summit talks in Washington that are expected to lay out the ground for the revival of the road map peace talks. Type wise, it is quite puzzling to why would soldiers use fatal means against children from a 50 meters distance.
Following the incident, it would be even more difficult for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to peruse his call to disarm militants. Opposition groups' refusal to lay down guns based on the existing need to protect Palestinians against "Israeli aggression" will positively echo in the ears of most Palestinians.
The majority of Palestinians who support Abbas are equally fed up with both the sate of lawlessness and by how cheap their lives are seen by soldiers who pull the trigger.
On Saturday, labor MK dani Yatum warned that in the near future, national religious officers, "who are more influenced by Rabbis than army commanders", would soon constitute a majority in the leading army ranks.
Army needs to carefully investigate the last incident, because right wing opponents of the disengagement, and hence a move back to diplomacy, enjoy a wide ground inside the army.
Both the attempt of entering into Haram Al-Sharif by the right wing Reviva group, and the killing of the three Palestinian children in Rafah are serving one purpose, to end the calm period that allowed for approving the disengagement plan and the revival of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation.