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PAGE 12A By Stewart Ain New York Jewish Week Despite Israel's claims that the war against Hamas has damaged it militarily, Hamas continued firing rockets into Israel Wednesday, Jan. 7 from the Gaza Strip and rejected a proposed permanent cease- fire even as Israel considered expanding its ground as- sault. "We are not looking for a cease-fire, but a cease of ter- HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH .... NEWS, JANUARY ....... 16, 2009 i Cease-fire, or " ? expansion ror," Israeli President Shimon Peres said Jan. 7. "No nation has ever had such a confron- tation." Peres' declaration came amid mounting international pressure for Israel to accept a cease-fire brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued a Jan. 7 statement thanking the two men for their efforts to "end the terror and weapon KOHINOOR FINE INOIIIN I00IllflNE smuggling emanating from Gaza," and said Israel would send representatives to Cairo to study their proposal. "Israel sees the dialogue between Egyptian and Israeli delegates, meant to advance these issues, as positive steps," the statement said. "Israel is operating with the intent of bringing an improvement in the security reality in the south of Israel." The cease-fire initiative calls for the deployment of an international force of Recommended by Scott Joseph -- Orlando Sentinel LUNCH BUFFET Tuesday - Sunday Buffet Lunch available * Over 20 items includes fresh fruit & salad bar Food cooked to your taste * Mild - Medium - Hot 2001 & 2002 Foodie Award by Orlando Sentinel LUNCH DINNER Tues-Fri 11:30-2:30 pm Tues-Thurs 5-9:45 pm Sat & Sun 12-2:30 pm Fri & Sat 5-10:45 pm Closed on Mondays Sun 5-9:45 pm (407) 788-6004 combat engineers that would deal with the tunnels along the Philadelphi Route that separates the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The force would work in coordination with a naval force that would patrol the Gaza Strip shores. Officers from the U. S. En- gineering Corps are already in the town of Rafa near the Egyptian-Gaza border to monitor the border and destroy Hamas tunnels used to smuggle weapons into the Gaza Strip, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reported Jan. 7. But even as Israel spoke of a cease-fire to end the war it began Dec. 27, the Israeli cabinet had still not ruled out expanding the military operation in the Gaza Strip. And a senior Hamas leader, Moussa Abu Marzouk, was quoted Jan. 7 as saying that Hamas would not discuss a permanent cease-fire as long Ethan Allen Plaza 249 W SR 436 Altamonte Springs (just west of I-4, behind TGI Friday's) *FIRST WE LISTEN... THEN WE DELIVER! LET MY 41 YEARS OF INSURANCE EXPERIENCE REVIEW YOUR COVERAGES AND DESIGN A PACKAGE THAT PROTECTS YOUR BUSINESS BY MEETING YOUR SPECIAL NEEDS! All Forms of Insurance Products for Business Retailers, Manufacturers, Contractors, Service Industries, Restaurants, Child Care, Physicians, Attorneys Call Today To Schedule An Appointment At Your Convenience as the Israeli occupation and siege of Gaza continued. But he said he was studying the cease-fire proposals. Although Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U. S. supported the initia- tive, she made it clear that any ceasefire had to be "durable and sustainable" and ensure that Hamas would never again be able to resume its seven-year long campaign of daily rocket attacks at Israeli civilians. "A cease-fire that returns to those circumstances is unacceptable and will not last," Rice said. Mordechai Kedar, an Arab expert at the Begin-Sadat Center, predicted that as long as the Bush administration refused to pressure Israel into accepting a premature cease- fire, the Israeli offensive would continue. "So far President [George W. ] Bush has let Israel do what it wants," he said. Bush's stance is contrary to that of Sarkozy and other European leaders who want an immediate halt to all fighting "because they don't want the Muslims in their countries to start riots," Kedar said. "Sarkozy is the most de- pendent on Islamic workers," he pointed out. "Communica- tions and the transportation system are operated in many cases by Muslims." Asked how long the Israeli offensive might last, Kedar said the Israeli government deliberately "never published what it will consider as mis- sion accomplished. I hope they know and have a goal -- an exit point. In [the war against Hezbollah in 2006], Israel made a mistake in publishing what its aims were. When they were not achieved, it was looked upon as a failure." Nevertheless, Kedar said it is clear that Israel launched this war in order to return normal life to the people of southern Israel. And that is something that can be achieved even if Hamas re- mains in power. "Hamas is a popular move- ment with thick roots in Palestinian society," he ex- plained. "We are not going to re-engineer their mentality. Add to this that Israel is not confident the security organs of [Palestinian President Mah- moudAbbas] can really do the job in Gaza. "So Hamas can stay on condition that it lets us live and leaves us alone, Hamas will have to build a bridge between their ideology [which calls for the destruction of Israel] and reality." Failure to achieve that objective could be political career breakers for both Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, both of whom are run- ning for prime minister in an election Feb. 10, according to Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University. But even if the war suc- ceeds in disarming Hamas, Steinberg said he doubts it would catapult Barak to the premiership. "Barak may be seen during the war as an extremely good defense minister," he said. "But when the war is over, he may still be seen as making a terrible prime minister." Raphael Israeli, a professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said he believes the Israeli public will not forgive Livni or Barak at the polls if Israel is not seen as having won this war. "Voters will not allow the fiasco of the Lebanon War to be repeated here," he said, referring to the widespread belief that Israel lost the war with Hezbollah because Hezbollah has been allowed to rearm and become even stronger. "Here they have to come up with positive results because they initiated this war and recruited public opinion in support of the war," Israeli said. "They cannot now say it was not their fault. They don't want to be accused of having ended the war without [positive] results." So far, Israeli said, Hamas has succeeded in "turning its weakness into strength by us- ing civilians to hide behind." At midweek last week, about 300 of the more than 670 Palestinians killed up to then were civilians -- many of them children, according to Palestinian and United Nations figures. More than 30 were reportedly killed at a U.N. school, which Israeli forces said they fired upon in response to Hamas terrorist fire from or near the school. Marshall L. Helbraun Representing The Sihle Insurance Group, Inc. An Independant Insurance Agency Phone: 1-800-432-6652 (407) 761-3521 (cell phone) An Israeli spokesman said Israel would not have returned fire had it known civilians were there. And at the U,N.'s request, Israel declared a three-hour halt to all military operations last Wednesday to permit food and medical supplies in Gaza to be transported to the areas of greatest need. Israeli military operations resumed thereafter. Steinberg said Israel had learned a les- son from the Lebanon War when it suspended all military operations for 48 hours fol- lowing a reported 57 civilian deaths from an Israeli missile attack in the Lebanese city of Kafr Kana in July 2006. During that interval, he said, Hezbollah had time to regroup and expand the war significantly. "Olmert said we are not going to make that mistake again," Steinberg said. He said he would not rule out Israel sending in signifi- cantly more ground forces "to expand the level of fighting -- more door-to-door combat and a more visible presence of troops inside neighborhoods... A lot of the military is saying we have no choice." Asked about the cease-fire proposal, Steinberg said that at that moment last week, it appeared to lack teeth. "If the cease-fire is like a Band-Aid and Israel is hit harder in two years, it will be a huge disaster," he said. Although Egypt is involved in brokering the cease-fire proposal, it cannot in the future be counted on to pre- vent Hamas from smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip because its prior record has been so poor, Steinberg said. "Nobody wants to insult Egyptian leadership, but ithas been inefficient," he said. "If it had any ability to end the transfer of weapons, it would have done it. So there is no real expectation that the Egyp- tians can deliver. And NATO said it does not want to put its troops into harm's way." So until countries an- nounce that they are really prepared to send in troops to keep Hamas from rearming, Steinberg said the talk of a cease-fire "is all lip service." Reprinted with permission from the New York Jewish Week, online at www.jewish- week.com. Israel warns Gazans on fighting Ik PAVILION Variouz Jevisb services are offed at Sauannab Court thanks to our  at The Jewish PalKlion. . .... r Hpiudity is Truly aof Life! 1301 W. Maitland Blvd. Maitland FL 32751 407-645-3990 1 ALF License No. 8447, SNF 1635096 === www.slm,ne'dSCmaitland (JTA)--Israel warned Ga- zans that fighting would intensify. "We are going to intensify the military strike against Hamas," the New York Times quoted phone calls to residents of Gaza City as saying on Saturday. "Our intention is not to harm civil- ians. If you live near Hamas, evacuate." News agencies reported leaflet drops with similar messages elsewhere in Gaza. Israel continued striking targets in the Gaza Strip Saturday, fifteen days after it launched major operations against Hamas targets and three weeks after the terror- ist group suspended a fragile cease-fire with barrages of rocket attacks on southern Israel. Negotiators for all sides re- mained in Cairo, but cease-fire talks were faltering; Khaled Mashaal, the exiled Hamas leader in Syria, said in a broadcast that Hamas would never come to terms with Israel. Israel wants Hamas' capability to launch weapons destroyed. The Israeli army said that Saturday included at least 60 strikes on Gaza, destroying an anti-aircraft launcher, ten rocket-launching points, seven tunnels and ten weap- ons storage facilities. One strike killed Amir Mnsi, who headed rocket-launching operations in Gaza City, the army said. Hamas fired at least 15 rockets, a number substan- tially lower than the dozens it was launching at the outset of the war. Three Israelis were moderately wounded in Ashkelon. At least 30 Palestinians were killed Saturday, includ- ing eight members of a single family in Jabaliya, bringing the Palestinian death toll to over 800; about half of those are estimated to be civilians. Thirteen Israelis, four of them civilians, have died in the fighting. Relief groups re-started operations in the strip on Saturday; relief had been suspended last Thursday after a United Nations driver was killed.