GOVERNMENT AS HOSTAGE
By Rudiger Gobel
[This article published in: Junge Welt, 6/30/2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, http://www.jungewelt.de/2006/06-30/054.php?print=1.]
Before the beginning of the Gaza invasion, Israeli Prime minister Ehud Olmert had announced "extreme actions." On Thursday, his army demonstrated what was meant with the threat. In an unparalleled act of political kidnapping, Israeli soldiers abducted a third of all the ministers of the Palestinian Hamas government, many members of parliament and mayors into West Jordan. Altogether 64 politicians were interrogated and accused, the Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev said. On the other hand, Israeli military radio announced Palestinian fighters could exchange the arrested for the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit abducted last Sunday. In 1995, Serbian troops took UN soldiers hostage during the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegowina and chained them to bridges to end the NATO bombardment. This was in vain. At that time, kidnapping was sharply condemned internationally - unlike the kidnapping of the Palestinian politicians on Thursday.
The vice-president of the Palestinian parliament, Ahmed Bahar, called the arrests of top Palestinian politicians "an open war against the government and the people that aims at destruction of the government." He urged the international community to intervene. Israel's leadership defended its actions. From the Israeli perspective, there is no separation between the political and military leadership of Hamas. The ministers are involved in financing terrorist attacks and informed about every act. "A terrorist is a terrorist. Political titles do not interest us," a spokesperson said. The Israeli army intensified its attacks in the Gaza strip. Fighter jets carried out several air attacks on the city Chan Juris. Rockets were fired on the University of Gaza.
At the beginning of the war on Wednesday, important bridges and streets were bombarded and the only power plant in the Gaza strip destroyed. The electricity and water supply have largely broken down. On Wednesday, combat aircraft intruded Syrian air space and flew over the summer residence of president Baschar Assad. Israel's minister of justice Haim Ramon declared that Hamas leader Chaled Maschaal was a target for assassination.
Meanwhile the militant "Committees for Popular Resistance" confessed to the murder of an 18-year old Israeli soldier kidnapped over the weekend. Eliahu Ascheri was killed because Israel continues "its aggression in the Gaza strip," a spokesperson of the group told AFP on Thursday. The "Popular Resistance Committees" threatened to kill the other soldiers who were also abducted if Israel continued its offensive. The life of Gilad Schalits is in the hands of the Israeli government.
In the Bundestag, only the leftist party PDS condemned the Israeli action. Wolfgang Gehrcke, foreign policy spokesperson of the leftist fraction, declared it was "an unparalleled act of political terrorism and adventurism" for the military to kidnap eight ministers and 20 delegates of a freely elected government. The German government must "rise out of the no man's land of speechlessness" and remind the Israeli government of its responsibility.