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Al Ahram: Israel overruns Gaza
Israel overruns Gaza in its anger over the kidnap of an Israeli soldier, reports Khaled Amayreh from Gaza
As this report was being prepared on Tuesday afternoon, the Israeli army was threatening to overrun Gaza and cut off electricity, water and food supplies to its estimated 1.3 million inhabitants. By dawn on Wednesday, the Israeli army had already occupied Gaza International Airport and several other parts of the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli army had already imposed a hermetic blockade of the Gaza Strip, demanding the immediate release of an Israeli soldier taken prisoner by Palestinian resistance fighters who, on Sunday 25 June, attacked an Israeli army outpost at Keren Shalom near Rafah. Two guerillas and two Israeli soldiers were killed in the attack, in addition to four other Israeli troops injured, one seriously, during the gun battle that lasted no more than five minutes.
The fighters, reportedly affiliated with the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and Hamas's military wing, the Ezzeddin Al-Qassam Brigades, slipped into the Israeli outpost via a 530-metre-long tunnel, attacking it with RPG and destroying a tank. Having succeeded in taking the Israelis by surprise, the guerillas took with them as they withdrew to Gaza a young Israeli army corporal who apparently froze of fear, seeing his two comrades burn to death inside their armoured vehicle.
Furious beyond reason, the Israeli military and political establishment used every threatening word in the lexicon, vowing, among other things, to assassinate Palestinian Prime Minister Ismael Haniya, destroy his home, and murder all Palestinian leaders if the soldier was not released. One Israeli politician called on the government to turn Haniya's home into a parking lot.
The threats were not merely verbal. The Israeli army massed hundreds of tanks just outside the Gaza Strip from Beit Hanun in the north to Rafah in the south, threatening to "crush Gaza" and "finish the terrorists".
Of course, the Palestinian guerilla attack was by no means an act of terror, even by the tendentious American standard. It was an act of resistance targeting a blood-stained occupation army who this month alone murdered as many as 40 Palestinians.