Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gaza war looks sets to go on

As the Israeli raids on Gaza and Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel continue, BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen assesses why both Israel and Hamas seem likely to pursue the conflict.

After two weeks of war both sides have reasons to believe they can fight on.

Israel has suffered relatively light casualties, a fraction of the dead and wounded of Gaza. Even though many reserve units have now been mobilised, which means a large number of husbands and fathers are in uniform and potentially in the line of fire, public support for the war is holding steady.

The government has managed the war of Israeli expectations far more effectively than it did in Lebanon in 2006. Victory has been defined in less sweeping terms, so that it will be harder for anyone to accuse the government of failure.Even so, it has set objectives that need to be met if Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defence Minister Ehud Barak are going to have any kind of political career when this is over.

Unlike Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who is leaving office because of allegations of corruption, Mr Barak and Ms Livni face a general election on 10 February.

They have set two main objectives, neither of which has been achieved yet.

First, damage the Hamas military wing so badly that they will either be unable to launch rockets into Israel, or be so intimidated that they will not dare.

Israel’s second demand is that the border between Gaza and Egypt is controlled so that Hamas will not be able to bring in weapons and money through tunnels.

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Source: By Jeremy Bowen BBC News

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