The Israeli army has launched its biggest attack on Palestinians in months, killing and injuring at least 19 Palestinians in what Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has called "a massacre" and "a slaughter against the Palestinian people".
Abbas said the Gaza operation on Tuesday, had severely damaged the peace efforts relaunched by George Bush, the US president, in the US city of Annapolis less than two months ago.
Hamas said it was Bush's presence in the region that had spurred the violence.
Khaled Meshaal, the group's exiled political chief, said he held Bush and Israel accountable for the deaths during Israel's raids on the Gaza Strip.
At a press conference in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Wednesday, he said: "We would like to tell George Bush that this is the real terrorism. Arabs and Muslims are not the terrorists.
"An Israeli official said that Bush gave Olmert the green light to launch a full scale military incursion on Gaza."
Meanwhile, Israel's governing coalition is falling apart, with the rightest Yisreal Beiteinu party quitting the government in response to a move by Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, to engage in peace talks with Palestinians.
Avigdor Lieberman, the strategic affairs minister and Yisreal Beiteinu party representative in the cabinet, said: "I informed Olmert that we were quitting the coalition and the government."
Yisreal Beiteinu has 11 seats in the 120 member Knesset.
Inside Story asks three experts - a Palestinian, an Israeli and an American - whether 2008 can really be the year when a deal is reached or is the situation back to square one, and what is next?
This episode of Inside Story aired on Wednesday, January 16, 2008
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Source: Al Jazeera