Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ceasefire Deal #12 Begins: What Did Israel Agree To?

Today is Day #50 is Hamas’ war against the people of Israel. Thus far, Hamas and its Radical Islamic terrorist allies have fired 4,450 rockets, missiles and mortars at Israeli civilians, both Jews and Arabs.
Yet in the last hour or so, Hamas and Israel have agreed to a new ceasefire deal, one that was negotiated by the Al-Sissi government in Egypt.
Admittedly, this is the 12th ceasefire deal in the past seven weeks. Hamas has broken 11 of them. So there is not a great deal of confidence here in Israel that the true quiet and calm has come.
That said, we are certainly hoping and praying that this quiet will come at last. We are cautious, and somewhat skeptical, but we’re trying not to be cynical. We all want peace to come. Where Lynn and the boys and I live, we have been spared the rocket fire. But Israelis living in the south have been under relentless attack. They are brave and determined. But many of them are exhausted as well. Not since the Nazis fired rockets at London during World War II have civilian populations been under such relentless rocket attack. The sooner this ends — with as few casualties as possible — the better.
What has been extraordinary is to see how the Lord God of Israel has been so kind and gracious to the Israeli people during this time. There have been deaths, and injuries, to be sure. But if it weren’t for the Lord’s mercy and the miraculous Iron Dome system, this could have been a horrific massacre of the Jewish people. And it wasn’t.
The Israeli people have much to be thankful for, and I hope and pray that Israel’s Prime Minister and other leaders will call the nation to give thanks to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob for His many blessings.
Here are the latest details on the cease-fire. I’ll post more details and analysis in the days ahead.
“Israel and the Palestinians agreed to an Egyptian proposal for a cease-fire to end Gaza hostilities which went into effect at 7 p.m. Israeli time on Tuesday,” reports the Jerusalem Post. “Despite the Egyptian announcement of the cease-fire, red alert sirens continued to be heard in Israel’s southern communities after 7 p.m. An Israeli was killed by one of dozens of mortar shells fired at the Eshkol Regional Council just before the cease-fire was set to commence.”

Roughly half the cabinet was opposed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to agree to an open-ended ceasefire with Hamas - but the decision was passed unilaterally by the PM anyway.

Government sources told Walla! news that a legal technicality meant the Prime Minister did not need to gain the approval of his cabinet to accept the ceasefire on Israel's behalf - but that had he done so, it is uncertain it would have passed due to the extent of opposition to it.
Immediately following the announcement, it was revealed that Economics Minister and Jewish Home part leader Naftali Bennett had opposed the decision.

Bennett challenged senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office to demand the acceptance of the ceasefire be contingent upon a Security Cabinet vote, according to the source, but was informed that legally the PM was not required to do so since the deal did not technically affect any change of legal status vis-a-vis the relationship between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
And Bennett was not the only minister opposed to the deal.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich (Yisrael Beytenu) also staunchly opposed the move, as they believe the ceasefire will not bring an end to attacks and will eventually be breached again, as previous similar agreements were, a party source told Walla!

Indeed the truce is based upon the same conditions as the one which followed 2012's Operation Pillar of Defense - which was broken by Gazan terrorists soon after.
Communications Minister Gilad Erdan, a member of Netanyahu's own Likud party, was also opposed to the ceasefire, according to reports.

The ostensible end of Israel-Hamas hostilities took effect at 7 p.m. Israel time Tuesday, on the 50th day of Operation Protective Edge, amid a major barrage of rocket fire. An Israeli was killed and two others were badly injured (one of whom later died) shortly before the truce began, and the alarms continued to sound down south for a good few minutes after 7 p.m., even as Hamas supporters were celebrating “victory” on the streets of Gaza. Not an auspicious start.

Hamas has breached truce agreement after truce agreement in the past 50 days, and there is no compelling reason to assume that this case will be any different. Unnamed sources in the Palestinian negotiating delegation — a curious forum comprising rival factions including Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad — claimed Tuesday night that Hamas’s leadership in Gaza insisted on accepting the same unconditional Egyptian terms that it rejected more than a month ago, and sidelined the Qatar-based Khaled Mashaal, who had previously rejected such terms. Some say that the sight of the Israeli Air Force moving to smash the apartment buildings in which Israel claims it had some of its command centers finally prompted Hamas in Gaza to call a halt. Time will tell if a terror government’s solemn assurance that it has silenced its guns has any credibility.

Entirely predictably, Hamas immediately busied itself extricating what it called success from amid the devastation it has brought down upon Gaza these past seven weeks. It fired over 4,500 rockets at Israel. It killed 64 soldiers and five civilians. It prompted several dozen airlines to shun Israel for two days last month. It terrorized southern Israel, especially in more recent weeks, when it stepped up its mortar fire and rocket barrages on the south. It killed four-year-old Daniel Tragermaninside his own home on Kibbutz Nahal Oz. For an organization committed to the destruction of Israel, these are achievements to celebrate.

The final word on this conflict, however, is still far from being written. If this round is over, then the focus now shifts to the specifics of the long-term ceasefire arrangements, as military action gives way to diplomacy.
And if, under a long-term deal, Hamas is able to replicate Hezbollah’s strategy in Lebanon — to retain full or significant control of Gaza, to re-arm, to build a still more potent killing mechanism — then its claims of victory, appallingly, will be justified.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s popularity has nosedived in recent weeks as the war has continued, as the rockets have pounded on, and as residents of the south have learned to their bloody cost that the political and military leadership were wrong in assuring them three weeks ago that it was safe for them to return to their homes. Support for Netanyahu’s handling of the conflict will rise again if time, and the long-term ceasefire terms, prove that Hamas has been marginalized and de-fanged. Many Israelis, indeed, will come to hail him for not having ordered a far more extensive ground offensive into the treacherous heart of Gaza, where Hamas lay in wait, with the consequent likely loss of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of soldiers’ lives.
But if Hamas is not marginalized, if it proves capable of rebuilding its tunnels, restocking its rocket arsenals, and plotting new strategies toward its goal of Israel’s annihilation, the Israeli strategy for handling this conflict will have been a failure, and the popularity of the prime minister will be far from the most central of Israel’s concerns.

Hamas has achieved a major achievement in its long-term ceasefire deal with Israel that started on Tuesday at 7 p.m., according to Channel 2 News’ military analyst Roni Daniel.
Commenting on the rumored ceasefire shortly before it was confirmed by the government minutes before taking effect, Daniel noted that Knesset members previously threatened that Hamas will leave the current round of fighting without a single achievement.
"But indeed gentlemen, Hamas has a huge achievement. This terrorist organization stood for 50 full days against the most advanced and strongest army in the Middle East, and did not submit," noted Daniel.

The journalist acknowledged that Hamas has been seriously hurt in the fighting; the group's financial chief and three top commanders have been assassinated in the last week, as well as potentially Hamas's military chief.

"However even on the fiftieth day (Hamas) has the strength to argue about the conditions of the ceasefire, its time period, and apparently about the agreements that will come as a continuation to it," remarked the military analyst.

Hamas was indeed attacking until the very end, killing an Israeli and seriously wounding two others in a massive mortar and rocket barrage starting just over an hour before the ceasefire, and even breaching the ceasefire up to 15 minutes after it came into effect.
Regarding how residents of the south were forced to flee their homes during the operation and millions others likewise were forced into shelters under regular rocket fire, Daniel commented "basically, Hamas dictated our lives to us for 50 days."
"I'm very concerned about what they're learning from this incident in Iran, Hezbollah and other organizations. This needed to end with Hamas begging for its life, and it didn't," Daniel added.

"Less than two hours ahead of the declaration of a ceasefire I take the liberty of assessing that Israel once again will answer in the affirmativeand Hamas can tell itself - when we wanted we fired at Jewish homes, and when we wanted there was a ceasefire," concluded the senior journalist.

Azzam al-Ahmed, head of the Palestinian Authority (PA) delegation in the Cairo truce talks, revealed to AFP on Tuesday night what exactly was in the long-term ceasefire deal that Israel agreed to, and which went into effect at 7 p.m. that night.
The first point raised was Gaza border crossings. Under the agreement, there will be an immediate easing of restrictions on the two main crossings between Israel and Gaza to allow in aid and reconstruction supplies.

Significantly, construction materials needed to repair the water network, electricity grid and mobile phone networks will be allowed in along with humanitarian aid, food and medical supplies. It should be noted that Israel continued supplying humanitarian goods throughout most of Operation Protective Edge.

Construction materials have in the past been used to build terror tunnels to attack Israel, and therefore earlier reports signaled they would not be allowed in until the ceasefire had proven itself for a set amount of time.

The deal did not give specific details about how construction materials might be restricted, in line with the Israeli blockade on Gaza that has been in effect since 2006. It did however call for a lifting of that blockade with no clear timeline.

As for the Gaza fishing zone, restrictions will be lifted immediately to extend the zone to six nautical miles from the shore, to be extended later to 12 miles. Over the past eight years, Israel has set a six-nautical-mile limit for Gaza's fishermen when tensions were lower, restricting it to three miles when hostilities have escalated.
Israel temporarily lifted the ban on August 17, two days before Hamas breached the last truce. 

During the operation fishing was canceled due to security threats, as Hamas terrorists made several attempts to infiltrate Israel by sea, and have often tried to smuggle weapons into the Hamas stronghold under the guise of fishing vessels.
The ceasefire deal likewise would have future discussions held about a swap of terrorists jailed in Israel for the bodies of IDF soldiers Second Lt. Hadar Goldin and First Sgt. Oron Shaul hy''d, who were killed in the operation.

Hamas wants hundreds of prisoners released, among them those arrested in Operation Brother's Keeper, during which the IDF cracked down on the Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria while searching for three Israeli teens abducted by Hamas terrorists.
They additionally demanded the release of roughly 60 terrorists who were freed in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal and later re-arrested, some of whom quickly returned to murderous acts of terror.

Hamas is also calling for the release of 37 Palestinian Legislative Council(PLC) membersall but two of whom are Hamas members, along with the 26 terrorists promised in the fourth batch of releases as part of the Israel-PA peace talks that broke down in April.
The Hamas demand for a Gaza sea and airport will be discussed in Cairo within the next month according to the agreement.

What will Israel get from all of this? The one major Israeli demand has been a demilitarization of Gaza, which has emerged as a terror haven since Israel's withdrawal in 2005. Apparently Israel has linked the lifting of the Gaza blockade and reconstructing the area with the disarmament of the terror groups.
The Palestinian delegation flatly refused this lone demand.

Apparently Israel will raise demilitarization and the limitation onconstruction materials and weapons in the next stage of talks to be held in the coming month.

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