Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Seems Likely Soon, but Not Certain — Arguments Over Who Won

A ceasefire between Hamas and Israel could be coming soon, but the deal — as of early Tuesday morning in the Middle East — is not yet finalized.  Israeli officials continue to say that Hamas is “demanding too much” — such as an end to the Israeli “blockade” of Gaza and a promise not to carry out more targeted assassinations.

In truth, while troops, tanks, and other equipment have massed near Gaza, Israeli officials and officers do not want to stage a ground invasion.  It would surely lead to a lot more civilian casualties among the Palestinians, as well as more casualties among Israeli troops.  So far, even as over 80 Palestinians have been killed in the violence since last Wednesday, the Israeli death toll stands at 3: three civilians in a home hit by a Hamas rocket on the first day.

[To hear Dan Raviv discussing the crisis, Monday on Charlotte’s WBT Radio: click here.]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hopes to be reelected on January 22, wants to avoid being caught in a messy, bloody ground war during the campaign.

An opinion poll in Israel finds very high support for what the government and military have done, aimed at suppressing Hamas rocket capabilities; but now there is 70% support for a ceasefire.

We’d estimate the chance of a ceasefire – rather than a ground invasion – at 55 or 60 percent.

The video shows how Israel (which has stepped up its p.r. campaign in the past five days) describes the threat from Iranian-designed missiles in Gaza. (The mentality of Israeli strategists has almost always been based on the notion of believing “we have our backs against the wall … we have no alternatives but to strike our enemies in order to maintain our deterrence … Israel is a tiny country.”):

One sign that a ceasefire — arranged, it seems, mostly by Egypt and Turkey — may be near is that the warring parties are arguing over what was and was not accomplished since the outbreak of major bloodshed last Wednesday.

Khaled Meshaal, political chief of Hamas, said today that Benjamin Netanyahu failed to achieve his goals — except for assassinating Ahmed al-Jaabari, the Hamas military chief.

Israeli officials say Hamas failed to achieve its long cherished goal of terrorizing Tel Aviv, Israel’s biggest city.  A few rockets from Gaza did reach the Tel Aviv area, but the only one that might have caused major harm was intercepted in mid-air by the American-financed Iron Dome anti-missile defense system.

Another concern worth mentioning is that if the Gaza mini-war continues, the Israelis could run out of ammunition for the Iron Dome.

Of course, assuming there will be a ceasefire rather than a massive Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, the question remains: What happens next?  Is there any good that can come of all this?  Any possible moves toward reconciliation — or, at least, finding some modes of moderate cooperation linking the United States, Egypt, Turkey, and Israel?

The White House announced today that while traveling in Myanmar (Burma) and Cambodia, President Obama telephoned President Mohammed Morsi of Egypt and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

The official “read-out” of the call by American officials says Obama expressed regret over the deaths on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides.  He called on Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel.  Obama did not add any call on Israel to stop or reduce its strikes on targets in Gaza.


November 19, 2012

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