Now that the international community has unanimously(through the UN Security Council) called for a cease-fire in the Israel-Gaza conflict that has killed 160 Palestinians thus far, both parties to the violence now face the dilemma of delivering a peace from a conflict that will influence future stability in the Middle East. How could they negotiate such a peace? Before the mere structure of participation and of scope to peace are drafted, hostilities must end. Despite the UN call for a cease-fire, attacks by both Israel and Hamas continued on Saturday and earlier today.
Israeli naval commandos carried out a raid into northern Gaza that placed troops on the ground within the Palestinian territory. Israel reported that four soldiers were injured in the operation to eliminate a long-range rocket base inside Gaza. Hamas claimed Israeli forces were repelled on the coast, Reuters reported. An Israeli attack on the home of Gaza police chief Tayseer al-Batsh killed 18 people and injured 45 including the police chief, who according to reports, is in critical condition. Health officials in Gaza report that the 18 dead were all family members of the police chief and that people were still trapped under the rubble in Gaza. Hamas sent rockets into Tel Aviv where most were intercepted by Iron Dome with no deaths reported.
Following Israel's brief land incursion into Gaza, Israel dropped leaflets calling on the 100,000 people of northern Gaza to evacuate their homes ahead of an impending Israeli ground attack 12:00 p.m. Gaza time today. By 1:00 p.m., Israel had mounted no major ground offensive but thousands of Palestinians were fleeing their homes. Thus far in the conflict, 160 Palestinians have died; some 800 have been wounded; Hamas has launched 800 rockets into Israel with no deaths reported there; Israel admits 1,320 attacks on Gaza; and a dozen Israelis have been wounded.
From the Vatican, Pope Francis, as reported by Reuters, earlier this morning called for a stop to the hostilities. Pope Francis urged Palestinian and Israeli leaders to listen to the call of the people who want peace.
As Western foreign ministers meet today to discuss the need for a cease-fire in the Gaza conflict, Israel should exercise caution and restraint against a ground incursion into Gaza. Such an escalation to the conflict would serve to inflame and to complicate the stability of the Middle East.