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War comes back to Gaza

December 28, 2008

A precision strike by the Israeli Air Force – one among many.

UPDATE: Targets detailed here.

The chorus of condemnation begins.

Major world powers called for an immediate end to violence after massive and deadly Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip yesterday and rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

The European Union, the bloc’s current president France, Britain and Russia urged both sides to stop the fighting, while in the Middle East the Arab League and its members singled out Israel for blame.

The French EU presidency “expresses greatest concern at the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and deplores the very large number of civilian victims”, Brussels said.

“It condemns the Israeli bombardments as well as the firing of rockets from Gaza. It demands their immediate halt. It condemns the disproportionate use of force.”

A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana earlier in the day said: “We are very concerned by the events in Gaza.”

“We are calling for an immediate ceasefire and the maximum restraint. Everything must be done to reinstate the truce” declared by the Palestinian Hamas movement controlling Gaza, which expired on December 19.

UPDATE: And the whole situation would have lacked that sense of the real without the UN springing into action and condemning Israel. Here they are:

It appears to have been a very cunning plan:

Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public – all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces “Cast Lead” operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning.

The disinformation effort, according to defense officials, took Hamas by surprise and served to significantly increase the number of its casualties in the strike.

Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well.

Barak gave orders to carry out a comprehensive intelligence-gathering drive which sought to map out Hamas’ security infrastructure, along with that of other militant organizations operating in the Strip.

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