The Islamic Post Blog

Egypt-Sponsored Peace Deal in Question After Bulldozer Incident by Khalida
July 25, 2008, 4:50 pm
Filed under: International, July Volume II - 2008, World | Tags: , ,

By Abu Aasim, Islamic Post Correspondent

The Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire between Israel and Gaza came under further strain on the morning of Wednesday July 2 when a man, reportedly a Palestinian working on a light rail line in occupied East Jerusalem, took his bulldozer on a rampage, plowing through a busy street, crushing cars, turning over a bus, and causing other destruction. The incident left, at latest count, four people dead, and 30 more wounded. The dead included the driver himself, who was fatally shot in his vehicle by police.
The Israeli security forces are treating the incident as a terrorist attack; although, according to Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, the man had “a criminal record,” but no known links to what the Israeli government considers “terrorist organizations.”
The truce, which officially went into effect on the 19th of last month, has been shaky from the start; as the Israeli military carried out last minute strikes on Palestinian targets within mere hours of the agreement’s commencement. Days later, an Israeli raid, which left a Palestinian youth dead in the West Bank, provoked rocket fire from Gaza, for which a resistance group claimed responsibility.
The friction has led to slow action on the part of the Israelis to deliver on many of the truce’s terms, which included a partial end to the closed borders around Gaza that has left Gaza impoverished. The friction has also led to a delay in the reopening of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt. The crossing was brought down by force back in January by Hamas, the elected Palestinian government which now only controls Gaza, seeking to loosen the chokehold placed on its people by the months-long Israeli blockade that has restricted everything from fuel to food to the movements of citizens within the war-ravaged territory.

The chief architect of the truce, Egyptian Head of General Intelligence Omar Suleiman, who spent months bringing the two sides to the table for the agreement, has expressed deep concern over the recent events that have threatened the stability of the deal, according to the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram, which quoted unnamed government sources. Suleiman is remaining in “direct contact with both sides to [ensure] that the situation does not escalate,” the paper reported.
Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has also been holding direct talks with both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and deposed Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyah to work out the details of a prisoner exchange that would see the release of an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, captured in 2006 by Palestinian anti-occupation fighters, in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by the Israelis. The prisoner exchange is arguably the most vital tenet of the truce.
Since the bulldozer incident occurred, the truce hasn’t broken down; but Israeli aggression has not ceased. At the first meeting of the newly-formed “Mediterranean Union” in Paris Israeli PM Ehud Olmert, who is currently under intense pressure from Israeli hardliners displeased with his apparent openness to a peace deal with Syria and prisoner exchanges with Hezbollah and Hamas, stated that a peace settlement is “closer than ever.”
These lofty words will most likely have an effect on the minds of the Palestinian people only when Israeli actions begin to change with the rhetoric.
Meanwhile the region waits to see how the events of the coming days will unfold.


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