For much of this year, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been wrestled out of the news by the Arab Spring. As popular uprisings took root in North Africa and spread across the Arabian peninsula, portending both revolution and brutal wars to Arab people, the conflict that has characterised the region for decades has been overshadowed by more compelling stories of peaceful uprisings met with the military might. On Thursday, just as Gaddafi looks to be on his way out and Assad receives his marching orders, the Middle East conflict has been prised open again. By KHADIJA PATEL.
In a daring operation that lasted several hours in southern Israel, militants attacked a number of targets in the Red Sea resort town of Eilat, killing at least seven and injuring many more. The violence began when assailants targeted a packed passenger bus driving along a highway near Eilat. Reports suggest many of the passengers on the bus were Israeli soldiers on their way home from their respective bases for a weekend break.
The attack on the bus was followed by several more attacks which came close together in time and location, and appeared well coordinated. The attacks involved gunfire, mortars and a roadside bomb, and lasted well into the Israeli evening. The Israeli Defence Forces said it had "targeted" seven militants in a gun battle. Two of the attackers blew themselves up in suicide attacks on a bus carrying Israeli soldiers. Egyptian military are also reported to have shot two gunmen in the Sinai peninsula.
It was not too long before the Israeli government issued statements declaring the attackers hailed from Gaza, promising to use "full force" in retaliation. Hamas, the rulers of the Gaza strip, denied it was responsible and responded that it would defend Gaza with "all its strength". Soon enough, the Israeli army launched an assault on the Gaza strip, killing up to six Palestinians in an airstrike over the southern town of Rafah. Israel’s retaliation was aimed against the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) who they believe had a hand in the attacks. The PRC is an armed faction based in Gaza said to operate independently of Gaza's Hamas rulers. DM
- Israel Strikes Gaza After Eilat Attack in The New York Times;
- Israel launches strikes on Gaza after attacks in Al Jazeera;
- Obama, Clinton denounce attacks on Israel in USA Today
Photo: Flares fired by the Israeli Army can be seen above the Israeli village of Elot near the southern city of Eilat August 18, 2011. Gunmen killed seven people in southern Israel on Thursday in attacks along the Egyptian border and Israel responded with an air strike in the Gaza Strip that killed six Palestinians, including the leaders of a group it blamed for the violence. REUTERS/Amir Cohen