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Zakaria: Israel should end campaign in a few days

  • Story Highlights
  • Zakaria says Egyptian, French cease-fire proposal looks promising
  • Zakaria says real challenge is to weaken Hamas politically
  • Israel should find way to lift the embargo of Gaza, he says
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Editor's note: Fareed Zakaria is a foreign affairs analyst who hosts "Fareed Zakaria: GPS" on CNN at 1 p.m. ET Sundays.

Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria says Israel's assualt on Gaza is perfectly justified.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Israel continued its ground and air assault on Gaza for the twelfth day Wednesday. A three-hour cease-fire meant to allow time for humanitarian aid to be delivered in Gaza crumbled in minutes.

At least 680 Palestinians have been killed and 3,000 wounded in Gaza since the campaign began on December 27, Palestinian medical officials said. Nearly a third of the deaths and 45 percent of the injuries are women and children, according to the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Seven Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed.

CNN spoke to world affairs expert and author Fareed Zakaria about the conflict.

CNN: Is there any end in sight to the violence in Gaza?

Fareed Zakaria: The Egyptians and French are proposing a cease-fire that looks promising. It seems to have some of the elements that both sides want. The Israelis want an end to the rocket attacks and the Palestinians want an end to the embargo. But as with everything in this process, it's all very tentative.

CNN: Was Israel right to attack?

Zakaria: I think it was perfectly justified. No society could tolerate the continued rain of rockets falling on their civilian population. But moral justifications aside, is Israel's strategy wise? They had justification to go after Hezbollah in 2006, but it ended up strengthening Hezbollah and embarrassing Israel.

CNN: Is this a replay of 2006?

Zakaria: No, I think Gaza is different from Lebanon and Hamas is weaker than Hezbollah. Plus, the Israelis have learnt some lessons. But they do face a similar problem. It's easy to understand how to weaken Hamas militarily. But the real challenge is to weaken it politically.

CNN: And is it getting weaker?

Zakaria: In some ways. Their infrastructure and communications networks are being destroyed. But are they losing support within the Palestinian community? I don't know. I think that it will be tough for people to be anti-Hamas right now because it would be seen as playing into the Israelis' hands.

CNN: So, what's the way out?

Zakaria: Israel should end its campaign within a few days. It has achieved most of its major military goals. The marginal gains are small from now on. And they should try to find ways to make the Palestinians in Gaza feel less besieged. If there is a way to lift the embargo of Gaza -- which has strangled it -- and yet monitor for smuggling, that would do the most to restore normalcy to the place. The more desperate Gaza is the more a defiance organization of resistance like Hamas prospers.

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