The Australian, December 31, 2008 - The killing and injuring of hundreds of Palestinians, many of them civilians, and the bombing of Hamas political and security infrastructure as well as mosques and Gaza's Islamic University, have the potential to play into the hands of al-Qa'ida and its supporters.
Israel could not have chosen a more inappropriate time to attack than the period between Christmas and New Year, when the world's attention is focused on messages of peace and goodwill, and when the US presidency is in a transitional mode. This is precisely the time the Soviets chose when they invaded Afghanistan nearly 30 years ago. For this, the Soviets were roundly condemned, but one wonders whether Israel will be criticised.
Israeli leaders have tried to be too clever by half. They preceded their onslaught by opening the Gaza crossing into Israel to allow some humanitarian aid to get through to the besieged and starving people of Gaza.
The purpose was to cast Israel as a compassionate actor in international eyes, and then to pound the territory so intensely that Gazans could not benefit from the aid. The result is even greater shortages of food, medicine and essential services, endangering the lives of many more Gazans....
Amin Saikal is professor of political science and director of the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia.