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Gaza on the Brink
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The Israeli attacks on Hamas targets have brought the six-month truce between the two sides to a bloody end.

The Israeli security cabinet decided on Sunday to step up strikes against militant leaders involved in rocket attacks against southern Israel.

Israeli ministers had resolved to "intensify operational steps by striking at terrorist infrastructure and those who operate the Qassam attacks".

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said military operations would focus on the Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants he accused of being responsible for an escalation in rocket attacks over the past week.

The decision and the ensuing Israeli attacks, including the air strike which was Israel's deadliest in Gaza in about a year, is plunging the region into chaos.

Sunday's air raids raised to 27 the number of Palestinians Israel has killed in Gaza since it stepped up air strikes in response to heightened rocket attacks that wounded a dozen Israelis last week.

The escalation will lead the Middle East to more violence and instability.

The Hamas militants vowed its "response will be like an earthquake" as they launched more rockets at Israel.

Gaza is on the brink of civil war with the collapse of the series of Egypt-mediated truces between Hamas and Fatah. This makes the situation more dismal.

Responding to a series of bold Hamas offensives that killed more than 13 people, President Mahmoud Abbas may declare a state of emergency in the West Bank and Gaza.

Any hope of normalcy has been crushed. Gazan schools and businesses have closed as residents stay indoors to keep out of the crossfire and avoid random roadblocks.

A new escalation in the fighting is believed to be around the corner.

Gaza has already been weakened by an international economic boycott of the Hamas government. Worse still, Israel has crippled the territory by limiting passage of civilians and commercial goods at Gaza crossings.

Life will be more difficult in this part of the world, with intensifying air raids from Israel and growing conflict between the two Palestinian sects.

(China Daily May 22, 2007)

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