With the news today that Israel killed four wanted Palestinian militants in Bethlehem, comes the realization that Israel may not really want a ceasefire in its war against Hamas. Egypt for the past week or so has been negotiating in earnest with the main Palestinian factions on a comprehensive ceasefire with Israel that would include freeing Gilad Shalit. This has been one of the most promising developments in weeks. Senior Israeli officials too have visited Egypt as part of the process. It looked real. For their part, the factions firing on Israel have essentially stopped their actions.
So for the IDF to kill these individuals means one of two things. Either the IDF is prosecuting a rogue military policy that is attempting to end the ceasefire option; or the Israeli government sees no real need in pursuing the ceasefire route. In either case, I think the people of Sdeort and Ashkelon should be asking why they have to be the sacrificial victims of IDF or government machinations. For the only real victims of the Israeli raid in Bethlehem will be the Israeli civilians targeted in Palestinian reprisal rocket attacks. And Gilad Shalit’s parents should be asking the Israeli media whether the government truly wants to free their son or merely use him in a propaganda project against Hamas.
It should also be noted that one of those killed had applied for amnesty from the Palestinian Authority, which meant that he had expressed a willingness to renounce his violent past in return for amnesty. Israel had refused the PA request. Here we have yet another example of Israel refusing to accept an olive branch when it is offered.