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Shavit: Israel/Hamas escalation may be imminent

July 7th, 2014
03:45 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

The latest airstrikes Monday night between Hamas and Israel may presage a serious escalation in violence between the two sides, Ari Shavit, senior correspondent for Ha'aretz, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“This is a very dramatic evening. I do not want to over-dramatize, but the last few hours may have been, God forbid, the tipping point.”

Tensions have already been high, with tit-for-tat violence; a 16-year-old Palestinian was kidnapped and burned alive, itself a possible act of retaliation for the deaths of three Israeli teenagers.

“For the last few days we’ve seen extraordinary attempts to stop the escalation. We’ve seen remarkable restraint on the behalf of the Israeli government – quite surprisingly for many, a right-wing, conservative government led by Benjamin Netanyahu did everything possible not to get into another war or cycle of violence. The same applies to President Abbas.”

“But Hamas – that kept on saying it wants to stop escalation – fired dozens of rockets into Israel in the last few hours, and Israel will not be able to be restrained anymore.”

“The danger, the great danger tonight, is that after the Israeli action that must come now, we will have more rockets shooting into Israel and a real escalation.”

‘No angels’

“No one is holy here,” Shavit said of current tensions. “There are no angels here.”

“We didn’t have American leadership; we didn’t have Israeli courage; we didn’t have moderate Palestinian strength. And the result is that all of the above are responsible for this escalation, with extremists on both sides are leading the way and might create major, major violence in the coming days.”

Both the Israeli and Palestinians have “wasted five precious years” of calm, he said, scuttling any real attempts at reaching peace.

“The extremists have taken the lead and might dictate their will and their way to the moderates.”

Shavit praised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for preventing violence, but “he should be criticized, very much so, for not controlling the extremists in his government.”

He has not cracked down on “extreme Jewish nationalists, who have been acting in a very violent way for years.”

“The fact that the Israeli government failed to be very tough with these extremists is now making that very government a victim to that extremism.”

As for the Americans, Shavit said that they have taken a hands-off approach to Israel ever since Secretary of State John Kerry’s much-lauded push for peace between Israel and the Palestinians fell apart earlier this year.

“The moment you try to have peace in this land, the way Secretary Kerry did in a courageous way, you cannot step back.”

“And from the moment that negotiations collapsed in this late March, this illusion that you can go back to Washington, deal with China and Ukraine and ignore the Middle East, was a dangerous illusion.”

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Paul Johnston PhD

    The ISRAELIS have become the "NEW NAZIS" & TERRORISTS that they claim they hated!

    July 8, 2014 at 1:51 am | Reply
  2. David Schwartz

    The above biased and unjustified statement proves that PhDs can make fine anit-Semites. The State of Israel cannot tolerate hundreds of rockets being fired into its territory; no other country would permit it including the one in which Paul Johnston is living.

    July 9, 2014 at 2:30 am | Reply
  3. Shahzaib

    David, im sure youve been watching the news, where they show israelis being all high and mighty and merciful but oh then they were attacked so they are retaliating. I dont blame you for thinking the way you do because the media has portrayed it like that, but if you see the videos being shared from gaza, of what has been going on you will weep. Its not about muslims or jews, its about being human. Oh and im sure the media will do an amazing job in convincing people like you that the israelis are not at faut since 90% of the media is controlled by them.

    July 9, 2014 at 3:29 am | Reply
  4. BOMBO

    Just in case some of you have not been paying attention:

    Israel, Hamas, and the PA ALL condemned the killing of the Palestinian lad.
    Israel and the PA condemned the killing of the three Israeli lads – but Hamas celebrated it.

    For the past year and a half, there have been dozens of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel with very little response from Israel. Only recently has Israel stepped up airstrikes.

    When Hamas fires rockets and mortars, they don't care who they hit.
    When Israel carries out an airstrike they carefully target militants.

    The Hamas militants know this of course, so they hide among civilians.

    With all of this in mind, I can't believe that some people still insist that Israel and Hamas act the same way or even accuse Israel of being worse.

    July 9, 2014 at 7:40 pm | Reply
  5. Time to bin religion

    It is just deplorable behavior on both sides. This seems to be clearest example today of religion turning a society into a sink hole. They are all just people, its not like foxes and hens trying to live together. It truly seems that neither side wants to live together in harmony and I don't mean with a wall between them. While I think both sides are to blame and that their religions and religious customs are 99.99% of the problem the fact that the Palestinians have been cordoned off in a getto in their own country by a religious group who were given over part of their country by the UK who had no right does tip the scales a little in the direction of the Israelis for fault. It is pretty rude to make yourself at home in someone else's country and refuse to integrate with local cultures and customs. The claim that it is their god given right to be there is just a fairy-tale when you consider that they were forced from the area over 1000 years ago. It would be much like Germans wanting to claim back a part of Italy due to them having the Kingdom of the Visigoths there 1000 years ago. If your direct ancestors haven't been in the area for 1000+ years it is pretty inconsiderate to marginalize the people who have been there for at the last several hundred years. And the comparisons of Palestine to the Jewish ghettos of Berlin are one of the scariest ironies I've ever seen.

    July 10, 2014 at 1:28 am | Reply
  6. Batts

    I think these longstanding resentments between Israel and Palastain won't come to an end, not until there has come a basis upon which the two nations come to an understanding. Or an agreenment. Ofcos not forgetting the old interests of the two countries.

    July 10, 2014 at 10:17 am | Reply
  7. Matt

    I call for a ceasefire, they can dance around like the house of pain. Jump. I am focused on 200,000 rockets in the north. That is when I need my bro's at the UN.

    July 13, 2014 at 3:25 am | Reply

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