Thursday, September 29, 2005

Israel Takes Fight to Hamas

In a long overdue move, Israel broadened its fight against Hamas yesterday by shutting down numerous charities accused of funneling funds to the terrorist organization. (Boston Globe: Israel increases pressure on Hamas). Continuing their five-day offensive, Israel also sent troops into Jenin and Burqin, killing three militants tied to Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade. The action comes despite pledges by Hamas to halt rocket attacks against Israel; a pledge that rings hollow, given the history of Hamas and their mission statement seeking the total eradication of Israel.

Hamas continues to be the greatest roadblock in the quest for long-term peace between Israel and the Palestinians. For the moment, Israel appears to have the terrorist group on the run and it certainly does not make sense to let up now. Cutting off funding, closing Hamas' offices, and taking the fight directly to Hamas strongholds is not only in Israel's best interests, but is also in the best interests of the PA. Hamas is a common enemy, effectively negating many agreements reached between the two sides.

Sharon issued a statement yesterday in which he emphasized the need to stay true to the US backed "Road-map for Peace." Progress on the road-map has been extremely slow, with both sides failing to meet a number of objectives. Hamas continues to be the major stumbling block. In an effort to halt the escalating violence, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas travelled to Cairo to seek assistance from Egypt, and PA officials also intend to meet with President Bush in October.

This is an opportunity for Egypt to support the peace process. It is also an opportunity for President Bush to follow through on his pledge to target all terrorist organizations of international reach - in this case, Hamas. There can be no end to the violence until Hamas is neutralized. Let's see how committed Egypt (and the rest of the Arab world) and the US truly are to the Road-map. For that matter, let's see how committed the PA is to it, since disarming militant groups is one of the tasks assigned to the Palestinians. So far, I've been less than impressed, and I expect very little to come of Abbas' visit to Egypt or to the US.


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