Middle East

Gaza attacks divide media

Palestinians try to extinguish fire following an Israeli air strike on November 14

Palestinian newspapers have reacted with anger to Israel's retaliatory air strikes on Gaza, although there is no comment from Gaza itself, as newspaper sites there have not updated.

The Palestinian Authority's paper accuses Hamas of giving Israel an excuse to attack.

Israeli papers broadly support the move, except the liberal Haaretz, although some commentators think the government should offer Hamas talks once the fighting is over.

Writers on both sides see the Israeli elections as a significant factor, and wonder how Egypt will react.

Palestinian press

Independent Jerusalem-based Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds

When Israel decided to assassinate Ahmed al-Jabari and continue its raids into Gaza, it chose to set the region ablaze militarily and politically... At a time when Hamas and the other forces expressed readiness to abide by the truce, the Israeli government made its party and electoral considerations top priority and thus decided to escalate the situation.

Image caption Air strikes have led to escalating tensions

Adli Sadiq in Palestinian Authority newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

The geopolitical framework that Hamas is using to rule Gaza allows Israel to attack it with the support of the United States and its allies. We need to insist now on Palestinian unity and on endorsing a realistic national policy.

Yahya Rabah in Al-Hayat al-Jadidah

The current violence is an exclusively Israeli matter. It is a free election campaign and creates a confusing atmosphere at a time when we want a vote [on the forthcoming Palestinian UN membership request]. This is an Israeli message to many parties in the region, but it is sent carrying Palestinian body parts.

Editor Abdel Bari Atwan in the London-based pro-Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds al-Arabi

What is happening in Gaza, and what will happen later, is a test for the Arab Spring regimes, and Egypt in particular... It is certain that all of them, or most, will fail the test. For as long as those targeted by massacres and attacks are classified as threats or enemies of the USA and Israel, their blood and souls are fair game.

Israel press

Mordechai Kedar in the mainstream Israeli newspaper Maariv

No doubt the liquidation of Ahmed al-Jabari is an earthquake in Gaza and around it... Israel should send clear messages to Hamas leaders: they cannot tour the world as diplomats by day and behave like terrorists by night.

Nahum Barnea in mass-circulation Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot

The liquidation of Jabari entails immediate gain and risks later. The gain is denting the morale of Hamas, the self-confidence of its commanders and its image. The risk is the intensity of the response... The new regime in Egypt could surrender to internal pressure and withdraw from the peace agreement; and the determination with which the Palestinian Authority deals with terrorists could fade away.

Liberal Israeli broadsheet Haaretz

Beyond the fruitlessness of replacing one military leader with another, and of turning the south into a war zone, Jabari's assassination and its timing are liable to have been a strategic mistake. The escalating violence between Israel and Hamas is likely to make the situation in the entire region deteriorate.

Military correspondent Aluf Benn in Haaretz

The assassination of Jabari will go down in history as another showy military action initiated by an outgoing government on the eve of an election... Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is interested in neutralising every possible rival, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak is fighting for enough votes to return to the Knesset. A war against Hamas will wipe out the electoral aspirations of the ditherer Ehud Olmert... and it will kick the 'social and economic issue' that serves the Labour Party off the agenda.

Mossad ex-chief Ephraim Halevy in Yediot Aharonot

If the Israeli Defence Force come out with the upper hand in this round and Hamas is beaten and weakened, the time will come for the victor to extend a hand to the defeated in an attempt to reach practical dialogue for calm on both sides.

Dan Margalit in Yisrael Hayom

The price the Israeli Defence Forces and the Shin Bet security service are exacting from Hamas is the only chance of halting fire for a long period... This is something not to be scoffed at, but is less than a comprehensive solution... Patience and composure will be the test of the home front, along with the understanding that every achievement is limited to the immediate future.

Jonathan Rosen in Israel's English-language Jerusalem Post

Anyone who judges the Netanyahu government on the basis of its track record will conclude that this government believes that a strong Hamas in Gaza is the optimal scenario for Israel... First, Hamas has much more to lose and can be more easily deterred than rogue militias; second, when Hamas is in power, Israel is not expected to engage with it politically, and it is certainly not expected to make concessions.

Yaakov Lapin in The Jerusalem Post

The ball is now in Hamas's court. If it chooses to continue to lash out at Israel's civilians, it could find itself face to face with a ground offensive, a development that would take the current operation to a new level.

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