French President Nicolas Sarkozy Asks Syria To Stop Hamas Rockets

January 6, 2009

(ChattahBox) — Israeli officials repeated their vows to keep fighting until they have crippled Hamas’s ability to launch rocket attacks from Gaza into southern Israel. Meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross now says the situation in Gaza has become a ‘full-blown humanitarian crisis,’as Israel continues bombarding the Gaza Strip. Officials say the fighting has now claimed the lives of some 575 Palestinians, as Israel’s military was pushing deeper into the tiny Palestinian territory. Hamas has been defiant in the face of the military invasion and fired about 30 rockets from Gaza into southern Israel on Monday.

Attempts by the United Nations Security Council to come up with a statement calling for a cease-fire in the 11-day conflict have thus far failed. French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Syria on Tuesday to try to convince President Bashar al-Assad to push harder for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. Last year Sarkozy became the first Western leader to meet with al-Assad in years, bringing the country out of complete international isolation, and now he hopes that gesture will help him where his Western counterparts have failed in dealing with Damascus. Syria, along with Iran, is a major backer of Hamas and Damascus hosts the exiled political leadership of Hamas and other radical Palestinian factions.

“President Assad should help in convincing Hamas to stop firing the rockets. Syria should help us to convince Hamas to choose the voice of reason and the path of peace and the path of reconciliation,” Sarkozy told reporters after his meeting with al-Assad. Sarkozy, who also warned his Syrian counterpart that “time is not on our side.”

Standing alongside him, the Syrian leader said that what is happening in Gaza is a “war crime” and a “barbaric aggression” that Israel will pay for later. Not exactly words that indicate a leader wanting lasting peace. But Syria has the most influence over Hamas, so Sarkozy wants al-Assad to convince Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal to stop the rocket fire against Israel. The Syrian leader could likely make that happen with the snap of a finger but it’s likely not going to happen unless al-Assad somehow thinks it’s in his best interests


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