Tell Hamas leaders in Gaza that if they don’t deliver Khaled Meshal to Israel as a prisoner, then they will be held responsible for this attack in Kerem Shalom. Alternatively, they can deliver the kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit. Either way, it seems clear that Meshal is one enemy Israel should consider sending, uh, elsewhere.
I am afraid that as I write, things are not looking good for Gilad. Unlike prisoner exchanges in past hostage situations, Israel seems to feel that any concessions on Shalit’s release will simply engender more kidnapping attempts and strengthen Hamas. There is also the barrier of speaking to a terror organization. On the Palestinian side, either the playacting is really good or Abbas and Hanieh are not in control. Now I have to say that it’s hard for me to believe Hamas members could dig a 700 yard tunnel without their leadership knowing about it, but even if they did know, it is uncertain whether they control the men who hold Gilad. In the meantime, the Palestinian street favors not releasing him without Israel releasing thousands of Palestinian prisoners in exchange.
Olmert gave an initial ultimatum of receiving news and some significant movement on the soldier by Tuesday morning, otherwise Israel would take significant action. It is Tuesday morning in Israel now, and as of 11:00 AM, Israeli soldiers continue to wait for orders. I believe that if they enter Gaza, they will find some resistance and there will be casualties. Of course, the big question will be “when do they leave again?” On the other hand, this is a true test for Olmert and to a lesser degree, for Peretz. His actions will determine, in my opinion, the future course of this government. I think the Palestinians have already determined their course for the future and it appears to be a lonely one.