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After two years, war looming in Gaza

Dec. 27, 2010 3:10 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 5, 2011 12:21 P.M.)
By Khadra Hamdan

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Two years have passed since Israel's war on the Gaza Strip, and the people are still bleeding. Its homes have not been reconstructed yet, while young and old continue to hear the thunder of Israeli tanks, and the whizzing of missiles as the detonate in fields and government police stations.

But despite this, despite the continued blockade, and despite the latest threats by Israeli generals to launch another "Operation Cast Lead" against Gaza, we have not fallen to our knees.

Today, we mark the second anniversary of the first strike of Israel's most recent war on Gaza. It was 27 December 2008 when 80 Israeli warplanes blazed over Gaza skies and pummeled our 365-square-kilometer land with missiles. The 1.5 million residents of this, the most densely packed area on earth saw towers razed in seconds and were terrified.

That 22-day nightmare came to an end and Gaza remained steadfast. Two years later the people of Gaza are wondering: will Israel bring that nightmare back upon us?

One political analyst, Wisam Afifa, says yes, and believes that Israel is maneuvering and exploring the capabilities of the Palestinian resistance.

"The Israeli army is willing to wage a new war on Gaza, but we don’t know when," Afifa said.

A coming war could be closer than we think, he said, as Israeli forces realize that they achieved none of their stated, or unstated, objectives during Operation Cast Lead. "They want to restore their reverence and they know that resistance took advantage of the ceasefire to develop military skills."

Afifa said he believes Israel wants to show that resistance factions were not committed to the spirit of the ceasefire, and rather prepared for another offensive against the military. Israel does not have a clear idea of what the resistance is capable of, he added, saying that he believed "Israeli forces will insist on attacking first to try and break resistance. They have been collecting investigative information about the Gaza Strip and a military strike is inevitable, but we don’t know when and how big it will be."

Political scientist Hasan Abdu concurred, saying he believes the Israeli army is preparing to launch a new war against Gaza. "The Occupation wants to impose a new ceasefire with new circumstances allowing the army to exhaust the resistance and halt the ongoing development of factions' military skills and capabilities."

While both sides benefit from the current ceasefire, he said, Israel has more to gain by changing the rules of the ceasefire. As for Hamas he said, "there are indicators that Hamas is not planning to confront the Israeli army and is avoiding giving the Israelis any pretext to wage war again."

The analysis fits with the sentiment on Gaza's streets, as the friends and loved ones of the more than 1,400 killed two years ago, once again mourn their loss.
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