Israel and Hamas, via Egypt and the U.S., have reached a “truce.” Via AP:
Israel and the Hamas militant group reached a cease-fire agreement Wednesday to end the fiercest round of fighting in nearly four years, promising to halt attacks on each other and ease an Israeli blockade constricting the Gaza Strip.
Egypt’s foreign minister, Mohammed Kamel Amr, said the deal was set to take effect at 9 p.m. local time, capping days of intense efforts that drew the world’s top diplomats into the fray. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stood next to Amr as he announced the breakthrough at a news conference in Cairo.
The agreement will “improve conditions for the people of Gaza and provide security for the people of Israel,” Clinton said. In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he agreed to the cease-fire after consulting with President Barack Obama.
Israel launched the offensive in Gaza last week to stop months of intensifying rocket attacks. Even after the deal was announced, an air-raid siren signaled a rocket attack in southern Israel, while an airstrike could be heard in Gaza.
In the last-minute burst of fire, Palestinian militants fired five rockets into the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. One rocket hit a house inside the city, police said. No injuries were reported.
The Israelis are trying to sell the last 8 days as a victory:
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday defended his decision to agree to a ceasefire with Hamas in Gaza saying he wished to allow Israel’s citizens to “return to their normal routine.”
Netanyahu discussed his decision to agree to a cease-fire, ending Operation Pillar of Defense after eight days, at a press conference with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman. The Egyptian and US-brokered cease-fire went into effect at 9 p.m. as the three leaders spoke.
Netanyahu stated that Operation Pillar of Defense had successfully destroyed “thousands of Hamas rockets” and destroyed the organization’s command centers.
IDF Spokesman Brigadier-General Yoav Mordechai confirmed that the ceasefire had taken effect at 9 pm in accordance with the political echelon’s instructions. “The IDF has stopped firing at the Strip and will open fire only if our forces are put in danger,” he said.
The IDF spokesman added that a decision on whether to release the reserve forces would be made on Thursday.
“The operation’s goals have been achieved. Hamas suffered a serious blow and is in a great amount of distress. After the organization’s leaders come out from their hiding places, they will see the extent of destruction. We understand from intelligence sources that Hamas is in distress.
According to Mordechai, time will tell what the deterrence did to Hamas. “We’ll know within weeks or months. The chief of staff is in the south, issuing orders to the forces. We are alert and ready.”
The reality is that Israel had not choice, because Obama wanted the cease-fire, and the Israelis have four more year of Obama:
Barack Obama heaped praise on Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire plan and offered increased US funding to beef up Israel’s air defence batteries.
The White House, in an unusual twist, highlighted that Netanyahu had followed Obama’s advice, which was to accept the ceasefire deal.
The statement from the White House was couched in extremely supportive terms for Israel, which the Obama administration views as necessary if it is to hold out hopes of persuading Netanyahu further down the line to engage in broader peace negotiations.
Israel may have obtained a short term peace, at relatively small loss of Israeli life. But Hamas will claim the victory. Hamas will restock and expand its arsenal, as Hezbollah did in Lebanon. There may not be any rocket fire in the short run, but when the Iranian orders come, Hamas will be a a position to overwhelm even the Iron Dome defenses.
Hamas lost some key members, and plenty of buildings. It will not make a difference, they will celerate their victory. They fired long range missiles into the heart of Israel and live to fight another day.
And in exchange for stopping firing rockets, Hamas gets more open borders.