Gaza rubble 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Following Israel's implementation of a unilateral cease-fire in Gaza on Sunday, the European press was unanimous in its opinion that Israel had achieved little in Operation Cast Lead.
Editorials and commentaries in Monday's European newspapers revealed damage to Israel's image from the offensive and question marks over Olmert's goals in Gaza.
The left-leaning SÃ¼ddeutsche Zeitung, located in the Bavarian capital, Munich, wrote, "The supposed victory of Olmert is... in reality a defeat. The campaign has sown hatred and anger and brought Israel only insecurity in return."
The SÃ¼ddeutsche Zeitung further criticized Olmert for not defining "what the objective of the war against Hamas actually was."
The Frankfurter Rundschau, a paper with historically close ties to the Social Democratic Party, wrote that the "war was a catastrophe for the Palestinians and for Israel's image in the world."
The Rundschau slammed Israel and the West for its blanket sanction policy against the Palestinian population in the Strip, and urged a "future perspective" for the 1.5 million Gazans. The paper cited Iran's role in seeking to establish Gaza as a bastion for its objectives.
Iran's nefarious role was commented on by the conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, which argued that the IDF offensive had blunted Teheran's efforts to stoke conflict in the region by supplying weapons to the Hamas terrorists.
"Israel has largely achieved what can be achieved militarily in terms of weakening Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Moreover, its tough - sometimes too tough - response to the rocket attacks against Israeli towns is a signal to the Lebanese group Hizbullah," the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote.
The liberal Swiss daily Neue ZÃ¼rcher Zeitung wrote, "The three-week war worsened the situation" in Gaza and "has brought neither side an advantage" due to the lack of a guarantee that the residents of southern Israel will not face future Hamas rocket attacks, and that Israel will end its siege of Gaza. The paper urged a robust diplomatic effort from the peacemakers, particularly US President Barack Obama, in the Middle East.
The leading French conservative daily, Le Figaro, argued that "without international help" a new outbreak of violence in Gaza is foreseeable. The "diplomatic work as not completed," the paper wrote.
Israel silenced its weapons, according to Le Figaro, in order not to spoil Obama's inauguration festival. The diplomatic work in the region "will be the first test for Obama," the paper wrote.
La Croix, a Catholic paper based in Paris, asked "whether all of the victims on the Palestinian side and a bad international image of Israel were necessary, in order to achieve an inconclusive result?"
In light of the cease-fire, Le Croix "welcomed the delayed return to moderation."