Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hamas Says Truce Is Over

Something went terribly wrong in Gaza yesterday. Israeli tank shells hit an apartment building, killing 18 people. Hamas has responded by declaring their "truce" to be over:

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip - Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal says that a truce with Israel is finished and is appealing to all Palestinian factions to resume attacks. Israeli tank shells ripped through a residential neighborhood in the northern Gaza Strip early Wednesday, killing at least 18 members of an extended family, including eight children, and wounding dozens of others, Palestinian health officials said.

"There must be a roaring reaction so that we avenge all those vicitms," Mashaal said.

The military wing of the Palestinians' ruling group called on Muslims around the world to attack U.S. targets, a call disavowed by the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed regret over the deaths and, along with Defense Minister Amir Peretz, offered "urgent humanitarian aid" to the Palestinian Authority and immediate medical treatment to the wounded.

Israel halted artillery attacks in Gaza while it investigated the incident, but said it would press forward with operations meant to halt Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli communities.

Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh suspended talks on forming a more moderate government with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and both men declared a three-day mourning period. Abbas said the negotiations must continue.

Russia and the European Union condemned the attack.

The tank shells landed around a compound of four apartment buildings in Beit Hanoun, the northern border town that has been the latest focus of the Israeli offensive. Gaping holes were torn into the structures, owned by four brothers from the al-Athamna family who lived alongside each other. Blood pooled in front of the houses.

A military spokeswoman said artillery rounds had been fired at Palestinian rocket-launching sites, but far from the apartment compound.

Lord knows what is going on here. This Associated Press story makes it sound as if the IDF claims they fired at rocket-launching sites, but mysteriously missed by a mile.

Hamas' truce has never really been a truce. Israeli has lived under a constant barrage of Qassam rocket attacks. (That's the reason Israel's tanks were in Gaza in the first place.) Still, the fact that they are declaring the truce over could mean that we are in for some very bad weather.