According to a London-based Arabic daily newspaper, US President George W. Bush gave Israel a green light to launch a military invasion of the Gaza Strip when he met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week.
Israeli diplomatic sources cited by the newspaper said Mr. Bush agreed with Israel's position that Gaza-based terrorists cannot continue to disrupt and threaten the lives of residents of Israel's southern Negev region. However, the president insisted that Israel's military efforts to combat the terrorism directed against its citizens must not result Palestinian civilian casualties.
Mr. Bush is concerned that Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza will give the Palestinian Authority cause to hold-up or even cancel talks aimed at the creation of a Palestinian Arab state by the end of his term a year from now. The regime of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, however, has traditionally scuttled negotiations even when the only deaths caused by Israeli military action were armed terrorists.
The Israeli air force killed two terrorists in central Gaza on Saturday in an pinpoint missile strike that came in response to the firing of 20 rockets and mortar shells at communities in southern Israel. No Israelis were wounded in those attacks, but a family home was seriously damaged by one rocket.