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Fierce Hamas Assault In Gaza May Prove To Be Counter-Productive For Islamic Fanatics

U.S. & International Community Likely To Conduct Carrot & Stick Policy Proving Radical Islamism Doesn't Pay

Olmert To Follow Bush Lead In Bolstering Abbas & West Bank While Punishing Hamas & Gaza

Palestinian refugees from Gaza

What should we do to help President Mahmoud Abbas and his West Bank government and weaken Hamas and its grip on the Gaza Strip? The signs are that both U.S. President George Bush and Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert see eye to eye in principle. The U.S. though may seek more than Israel would like to give when it comes to releasing terrorist prisoners, lifting roadblocks and other security related issues on the West Bank. IsraCast anticipates that the Hamas takeover of Gaza will be viewed as an overkill both of Palestinian lives and politically.

:: IsraCast Audio ::

The Hamas onslaught in Gaza may prove to be an overkill in more ways than one - not only the bloody Hamas assault on its Fatah brothers but also politically both in the Palestinian and international arenas.

Fatah members who fled for their lives tell how scores of their colleagues were brutally murdered. But not only killing and mayhem ruled the streets when Hamas launched its assault against its Fatah rivals. Hundreds of Fatah members and their families have fled Gaza for the West Bank. Other Fatah refugees have fled south to Egyptian controlled Sinai. One hundred more have taken shelter at the Karni crossing where even there a terrorist opened fire killing and wounding a number of them.

President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: Amit Shabi)

In Gaza, the Hamas fanatics were swept away by their Islamic fervor launching an all out civil war that has riven the Palestinian people as never before. Today Hamas is riding high basking in their victory. But for how long? On the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas together with Egypt and the Arab world, the U.S. and the international community have now joined Israel in boycotting Hamastan in Gaza. Israel has made clear it will cooperate with international supplies of essential commodities such as food and medicines. But there will be a price to be paid for the Hamas overkill - Gaza will not be starved out but in a short time it is very likely that Hamas and the residents of Gaza will be left isolated, high and dry. Oh yes, Hamas will still be able to count on Iran and Syria for what it's worth. It may not be very long before Hamas recognizes what it has done and seeks a reconciliation with Fatah.

Channel 10 TV reports that Fatah officials who fled Gaza to the West Bank are calling for Israel to totally isolate Gaza in order to punish Hamas. President Bush has telephoned Abbas expressing support for the new Palestinian government headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, an American favorite. The embargo imposed because of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh is over. The U.S. has launched a new carrot and stick policy - Abbas and his West Bank government will receive generous foreign and political aid, Hamas and Gaza will get the stick.

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is on board ready to release Palestinian tax monies to Abbas. The international community can be expected to follow suit in lavishing largess on Abbas and the West Bank. The message will be sounded loud and clear 'Radical Islam does not pay!' This is also part of the price that Hamas will pay for overreaching in Gaza. Hopefully the Palestinians, not only on the West bank but also in Gaza, will see the light. Reacting to the dramatic developments, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is ready to play a part in promoting what he perceives as 'new opportunities'. Needless to say that Olmert was well aware before his meeting with Bush which way the wind is blowing now. That Bush has a big stake in trying to rescue the Road Map after Hamas has hijacked it into a dead end.

The near future will also be a real test for President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Abbas and co refused to confront Hamas over its vow to destroy the Jewish state. Abbas and company charged: 'Those Israelis want a Palestinian civil war, we're not going to do it!' Now Abbas got that civil war - but it was not of Israel's making but that of Hamas.

Question : Will Abbas, Fayyad and the others be ready to crack down now on their own Fatah terrorists who constantly plan terror attacks and suicide bombings on the West Bank? Two female suicide bombers were caught just a couple of weeks ago. Until now Abbas has played a game of mirrors but he should be made to prove in deed not just in word that he is ready to take on the terrorists - that is the acid test for truly making peace. As for Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak can be expected to conduct a zero tolerance campaign against Hamas on the West Bank - Abbas will likely to do the same. But in addition Abbas must also rein in all terrorists including his own in Tanzim and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Olmert's 'new opportunities' apply not only to the Palestinians but also to his political career as prime minister. More or less disgraced by his conduct of the Second Lebanon War, Olmert is now getting a second chance in navigating Israel through what appear to be new uncharted waters.

David Essing

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