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June 29, 2006
Olmert Holds Off On Northern Gaza Operation

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has delayed the IDF incursion into northern Gaza due to an unexpected and unspecified diplomatic initiative, the Jerusalem Post reports. Olmert says that the initiative has paid no dividends as of yet, but apparently he wants to play it out a little further:

In a meeting with Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Thursday evening, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered the delay of an IDF incursion into northern Gaza . Government sources emphasized that the order was not a cancellation, but rather a postponement.

The delay is related to an undisclosed development on the diplomatic front.

Earlier Thursday, Peretz revealed that a "surprising diplomatic breakthrough" was possible in the attempts to release kidnapped Cpl. Gilad Shalit, but did not elaborate on the development.

"We are in one of the most crucial stages of establishing the rules of conduct between us and the Palestinian terror organizations," he asserted.

His aides, however, said that diplomatic efforts "were not bearing fruit," but added that a new development was possible soon.

The initiative has not kept the Israelis from pressing their incursion in the south. The IDF has to ensure that the breached southern border does not allow the terrorists holding Gilad Shalit to escape into Egypt. They want to box the terrorists into as small an area as possible in Gaza. If the situation with Shalit changes for the worst, the IDF wants to have a concentration of targets to attack.

Arab diplomats have no illusions about any diplomacy involving Hamas. The Post reports that they have started to flee Gaza, fearing the results of this standoff. That report comes not from Israel but from the Hebollah television network Al-Manar. They understand that the Israelis mean business on this mission, and that without Hamas surrendering Shalit and any other Israelis they have abducted, the Israelis intend on inflicting serious damage to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and any terrorist infrastructure they can find.

This development should mature in the next few hours. Olmert will not wait forever for the diplomats to provide a solutiion and to return Israeli hostages to the IDF.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 29, 2006 11:41 AM

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Tracked on July 2, 2006 9:12 PM


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