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Israelis Set to Invade Gaza, Palestinians on High Alert

Livni Threatens to Besiege Abbas in Gaza, Egypt and Russia Mediating

Palestine Media Center – PMC [Official PA website]

Palestinian modest security forces and anti-occupation groups are on high
alert as Israel is threatening and bracing for invading the Gaza Strip,
issuing a two-day ultimatum to the Palestinian leadership to release an
Israeli soldier, reportedly missing in Palestinian territory or “kidnapped”
by Palestinians, a possibility that has yet to be confirmed.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh in
Gaza late Sunday for talks on the fate of the reportedly captured Israeli
soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit, also a French national, and other matters,
said Deputy Prime Minister Nasseredine al-Sha’er.

The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) reported Shalit “missing” following a
daring Palestinian attack, in which two Palestinians were reported killed
when they attacked an IOF unit protecting the Israeli-Egyptian border
crossing of Karm Abu Salem (known to Israelis as Kerem Shalom), after
killing two Israeli soldiers and wounding four others.

Egypt and Russia were mediating to release Corporal Gilad Shalit, reportedly
wounded but still alive, Israeli Cabinet Secretary Adv. Israel Maimon
revealed yesterday.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit warned Sunday against further
escalation in the Gaza Strip as an Egyptian security delegation reportedly
arrived in Gaza.

Israel’s decision-making inner cabinet headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
decided Sunday to hold off for two days launching a military response to the

The cabinet authorized Olmert to order military moves against “militants” in
Gaza, but only after diplomatic efforts to win Shalit’s return, according to
a government statement.

Ehud Olmert announced that he had given orders not to negotiate over
Corporal Gilad Shalit’s life, the Jerusalem Post reported Monday.

Israel held the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) responsible for both
the attack and the fate of the Israeli “missing” soldier.

“The Palestinian Authority (PA) – the PA Chairman and the PA government – is
responsible for the event with all this implies,” the Israeli cabinet’s
statement said, adding: “The PA will bear full responsibility for any harm
to Cpl. Shalit. No person or organization will have immunity at this time.”

Israel threatened military action.

“The Cabinet approves the security establishment’s recommendations to
prepare and deploy the necessary forces in order to be ready for urgent
military action,” the statement added.

“The effort would now focus on releasing the kidnapped soldier, but there
would be military action if he is not released in two days,” an IOF source
told Reuters.

Israeli “Defense” Minister Amir Peretz told reporters in Jerusalem: “I want
to tell everyone involved, anyone who has a role in deciding on the
soldier’s condition, that as far as we are concerned, we will take revenge
against anyone who injures the soldier, including their leaders.”

Livni Threatens to Besiege Abbas

Meanwhile, Peretz’s colleague Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, threatened that
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would be besieged in Gaza Strip until
the release of the Israeli-French soldier, and urged the Palestinian leader
to act swiftly to release the soldier, by force if necessary.

“This is an opportunity for Abu Mazen (Abbas) to prove how serious his
intentions are. Israel expects him to act immediately to return the
kidnapped soldier to Israel and he has the necessary military means to do
so,” Livni said.

All Gaza border crossings into the outside world are closed, including the
Gaza-Egypt Rafah border crossing.

Both Abbas and the Palestinian government urged whoever is capturing
Corporal Gilad Shalit to spare his life and treat him well until his

Abbas Denounces Sunday’s Attack

Moreover Abbas condemned Sunday’s attack as an act in breach of recent
inter-Palestinian understandings.

In a written statement sent to reporters, Abbas said, “the assault
contradicts with the attitudes we heard over the past two days, and it is in
breach of the understandings that were voiced by leaders of factions we

“The act goes against all of the positions and declarations reached by the
[faction] leaders during the discussions that took place over the last two
days in Gaza,” said the statement.

“We have always warned against the danger of certain groups or factions
leaving the national consensus and carrying out operations for which the
Palestinian people will always have to pay the price,” it added.

Abbas called on the captors of the Israeli soldier to bring him back,
warning that Israel would harshly retaliate against the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian presidency also announced it would order fast and inclusive
investigation over the parties that participated in Sunday’s attack.

The presidency appealed to the international community to intervene “to
prevent Israel from exploiting the attack to carry out large-scale
aggression in the Gaza Strip.”

Abbas arrived in Gaza on Friday and presided over a series of meetings with
Prime Minister Haniyah and representatives of factions in preparations for
declaring the outcomes of inter-Palestinian talks.

Hamas-led Government Wants Corporal Shalit ‘Freed Immediately’

Separately, in a joint press conference with deputy Prime Minister al-Sha’er
in the West Bank town of Ramallah, Presidency Secretary General al-Tayyeb
Abdul Raheem told reporters Sunday that the PNA is seeking to maintain calm.

Al-Shaer on his part demanded that the Israeli soldier reportedly missing in
Gaza “be freed immediately.”

“I demand that this Israel soldier be freed immediately,” al-Sha’er said.

Calling on Israel to avoid escalation, Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the
Palestinian government, said Sunday during a Gaza press conference, “the
occupation army says there is a kidnapped soldier. We have not received an
official response from the factions of the resistance – but if this is true,
then we call on the factions to protect the soldier.”

“If the Palestinian factions are indeed holding the kidnapped soldier, we
call on them to treat him well and not harm him,” the spokesman added.

“The Palestinian government is following the matter closely and is holding
talks with the Palestinian Presidency, with Egypt and other elements in a
bid to resolve the matter,” Hamad

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