President George W. Bush’s visit to Israel today to mark the country’s 60th anniversary was marred by violence and warnings by Israel’s leader that the military will do what it must to stop rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.
A few hours after Bush arrived, a Palestinian rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck a mall in Ashkelon, a coastal city of about 110,000 people. Dozens were injured. Earlier, Israeli airstrikes killed three Palestinian militants and a civilian in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical officials said.
"What happened today is entirely intolerable and unacceptable," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at a celebration in Jerusalem of U.S.-Israel relations attended by Bush, Israeli and U.S. officials, academics and world Jewish leaders. "The government of Israel is committed to stop it, and we will take the necessary steps so that this will stop."
Olmert, speaking earlier alongside Bush, said Israel won’t accept cross-border attacks from Gaza, which is controlled by the militant Palestinian Islamic group Hamas. "We will make exceptional efforts that we will not explain, but we will not be able to tolerate continuous attacks against innocent civilians."
The U.S. condemned the attack on Ashkelon, which came as Egypt works to negotiate a cease-fire among Palestinian militants.
"It’s clear Hamas isn’t interested in peace or helping the people of Gaza lead better lives," White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe, who is accompanying Bush, said in a statement. "Political goals will never be achieved by launching rockets from Gaza onto innocent women and children."’
With all due respect to Mr. Johndroe, “political goals” are not on the Hamas-Iran agenda, and never have been. Have you been in hiding the last sixty years?
Or perhaps genocide is a legitimate political goal as far as Hamas and Hezbollah are concerned.
Meanwhile, Israel has its own plans:
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Israel’s military chief, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, has decided to back a broad thrust deep into the Gaza Strip to stop the attacks, the daily newspaper Ma’ariv said today, without citing anyone.
The Israeli military operation could be launched as early as next week, following Bush’s trip, the newspaper said.
Bush, with only eight months left in office, is on his second visit to Israel in five months, meeting with Olmert as the prime minister faces possible indictment on corruption charges. Olmert has said he would resign if indicted.
Bush is pushing for at least the outlines of an Israeli- Palestinian peace deal before he leaves office. His national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, told reporters en route to Israel that an agreement is still possible.
Bush, on his arrival, drew parallels between the founding of both America and Israel. "We built strong democracies to protect the freedoms given to us by an almighty God," he said.
True enough, Mr. Bush. But we had only the English, the Spanish, the French and Indians working against us. Israel has every single Arab state in the Middle East in cahoots, hoping that Hamas and Hezbollah can pull it off.
That’s not to mention all the chattering classes in the West yabbering yet again about the end of Israel.
Please, sir, I beg you: be the one president to recognize there will never ever be even the smallest smidgen of an honest outline of peace between Israel and Palestine. The PoorPals don’t want it unless it comes sans Jews.
On bended knee, I beseech you to ask the G-d to whom you pray what you should do in this situation. I don’t pretend to know what the answer would be, but I can tell you what it won’t be…and you can, too, if you’re truthful with us.