After the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shilit, Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated that the Israeli government would "go to extremes" to safely bring back Cpl. Shilit to his family. It began with troops amassing along the Gaza Strip, firing rockets and tank shells into parts of the Gaza Strip from which it was believed militant rocket fire was coming from, and the arrest of nearly 1/3 of the Hamas led government of the Palestinian state. Israel reportedly "buzzed" the summer residence of Syrian president Assad in a clear warning regarding is supposed "implicit involvement" with terrorist organizations including Hamas. Now the stakes are going up.
An Australian paper has reported that the Israelis have threatened to assassinate the Palestinian Prime Minister (member of Hamas Ismael Haniyeh) if the soldier is not freed. MSNBC is reporting that Palestinian militants holding Cpl. Shilit have given new demands for the release of 1,000 prisoners and a halt to Israel's military operations in Gaza.
The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the situation. Palestine asked the council to condemn Israel for the Gaza offensive, but no such resolution was circulated, most likely because of U.S. opposition. Once again, the U.S. is bowing to Israel's offensive strategy, and this time, the U.S. could go too far in its implicit support for Israel's actions. I agree that Israel should have recourse for the kidnapped soldier. However, even though they are terrorists, the Hamas leadership was democratically elected, whether we like it or not. We spout off about democracy and "freedom on the march" while at the same time, with our forked tongue, attempt to tell other nations who they can and cannot elect to their leadership.
I disagree wholeheartedly with the Palestinian choice for a government. But, I respect their decisions. Already, to a certain extent, the Hamas leadership in charge in Palestine has began to moderate its views. But with Israel's offensive, there appears to be a backslide towards the more hardline views of Hamas and their previously stated goal of the destruction of the state of Israel. This situation has all the markings of one that could descend Israel and the Palestinians into an all out conflict that could easily draw in Syrian involvement.
If the reported threat from the Australian paper is true, and Israel carries the threat out, the assassination of a democratically elected head of a government (whether or not the U.S. has decided to recognize the government) would be a very serious raise in the stakes of International tensions, and would open a window for other nations to declare opposing country's leaders as "terrorists" and then strike and attempt assassinations. And, in my opinion, the U.S.' bullish attitude towards the United Nations is about to render the U.N. useless. The Right will cheer the downfall, but we'll all pay the price. After all, since its creation, we have not had a global conflict on the scale of the first two World Wars. Without the U.N., the chances of a global conflict, begun in the Middle East (by the U.S.) will greatly increase.
The stakes have been raised. The last card has been drawn. Who will fold first?