Friday, 29 August 2014

50 days of war in Gaza likely to cost Israel dearly


JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel may be painting a victorious picture of the war in Gaza, but 50 days of fighting looks set to cost it dearly on the political, economic and diplomatic fronts.

Under attack by hawks in his cabinet for accepting a ceasefire which ended the violence on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has seen his popularity plummet as the military operation, which began on July 8, dragged on for seven weeks.

But on Wednesday, Netanyahu presented his defense: Hamas, he said, was hit "very hard" and did not receive anything it had demanded in exchange for halting its fire, namely a port and an airport in Gaza.

Such matters are to be discussed, along with Israel's demand for Gaza militants to disarm, at a new round of talks which will take place in Cairo within the coming month.

But already, Israel has begun staking out its position - that there will be no port, nor an airport and no entry of any building materials that could be used by militants to manufacture rockets or build tunnels or other fortifications.

On the military front, Netanyahu also outlined Israel's achievements - the destruction of a network of attack tunnels and the elimination of "approximately 1,000 terrorists," among them senior military commanders.

He also listed the performance of the Iron Dome anti-missile system, which shot down 735 rockets heading for populated areas, which the army said equated to a 90 percent success rate.

Throughout the war, 70 people were killed on the Israeli side, 64 of them soldiers. Of the civilians who died, all of them were killed by short-range mortar shells which struck close to the border within a range that Iron Dome cannot intercept. more

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