Israel’s “Unilateral” Ceasefire

UPDATED BELOW

Just in time for the inaugural festivities on Tuesday, Israel has declared a “unilateral ceasefire.”

By stopping the offensive, Israel decided to spare Barack Obama the specter of a Middle East blood bath on his inauguration day Tuesday and avoid friction with the new U.S. administration.

Wait a minute…. you mean, Israel was causing the bloodbath? Even though Hamas fighters were still presumably hiding weapons in schools and mosques and homes, Israel made the choice not to blow up those buildings and all the civilians in them– just so Obama’s big day would not have a huge shadow cast over it? But Israel could not make that choice for the sake of sparing the lives of civilians?

Israel did not discuss the terms of the ceasefire with Hamas (hence “unilateral” rather than “negotiated”), because Israel refuses to recognize Hamas as the legitimate leadership of Gaza, even though Hamas’s political party won free, fair, and democratic elections in 2006. Instead, Israel arranged for Pres. Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to “call” Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and recommend a ceasefire — and Olmert most graciously agreed that there should be one. He told Israelis and the rest of the world that all of the military operation’s objectives had been achieved — and in some cases “exceeded.”

The terms of the ceasefire:

… Israel will stop its offensive, but will keep the IDF forces in place, see how Hamas responds and whether an effective mechanism will be set up on the border to stop smuggling.

If so, then discussions will begin on withdrawing the troops. If not, the operation will continue.

“Today, we face you again and can say that the conditions have been created so that our targets, as defined when we launched the operation, have been fully achieved, and more so,” Olmert said, in a special address to the nation on Saturday night.

Those goals were defined as stopping the rocket fire on Israel and an end to the arms smuggling into Gaza.

Hamas leaders rejected Israel’s terms, saying they did not go far enough:

Hamas said late Saturday that it reserves the right to continue resisting Israel “with all means” if Jerusalem does not follow up its ceasefire with a withdrawal from Gaza and lifting the blockade on the territory, a Hamas official said on Saturday.

“The Israeli declaration is not enough,” Ali Barakeh said in the Syrian capital.

Hamas said on Saturday that it would fight on despite Israel’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

“A unilateral ceasefire does not mean ending the (Israeli) aggression and ending the siege. These constitute acts of war and so this will not mean an end to resistance,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Reuters in Gaza.

He also criticised Israel for taking a unilateral approach rather than entering into a deal with Egyptian mediators: “It is an attempt to pre-empt the Egyptian efforts and any other efforts that seek to achieve a withdrawal of the occupying forces, an end to the siege and a ceasefire.”

Right-wing reaction is predictably repellant.

Noah Pollak at Commentary writes sympathetically about the IDF’s anger at having to stop the carnage (which he delicately calls “finishing the job”):

Opposition to the cease-fire has come principally from the IDF, which is furious at the politicians for stopping what has so far been a lopsided and successful operation that has seen far fewer IDF casualties than expected. The other source of dissent is public opinion, which remains overwhelmingly in favor of finishing the job, and especially against ceasing the operation without the recovery of Gilad Shalit. It is hard to see how Livni and Barak will benefit from all of this in the national elections scheduled for February 10th.

My goodness, no of course not. Killing another 1,200 Palestinians, or 12,000, or 120,000 more, would be a small price to pay for the recovery of one Israeli soldier.

Noah is quite worried that, “Just as war creates its own momentum, so do cease-fires.” Of course, he hopes he’s wrong about this, but he very much fears that once Israel stops the military assault, they will find it very difficult to start up again:

… It’s going to take tremendous political willpower for Israel to pause Cast Lead and then resume it again. If Hamas’ leaders have any capacity for strategic thinking, they will halt their attacks for a week and ensure an Israeli withdrawal — and then hold victory parades, resume firing rockets, and test whether Israel is prepared to commence Cast Lead II a week after its first iteration was dismantled. In this way, the Israeli rout of Hamas the world witnessed over the past three weeks can be quickly transformed into an exemplar of jihadist bravery and steadfastness. The humiliation of Israel will be complete.

Bruce McQuain is more sanguine about Israel’s fortitude:

Don’t look for the cease-fire to last too long if this keeps up:

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continue to fire rockets at the western Negev on Saturday evening, despite a cabinet decision that the IDF would halt their fire from 2 a.m. Sunday. At least seven rockets were fired after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced the unilateral cease-fire, with one Grad-type rocket causing power outages in Ashdod.

The cult of death continues to ask Israeli assistance in attaining their goal.

There you have the morality of Israeli military policy and the supporters of that policy in the United States. A low-end figure of 1,200 Palestinians killed by Israeli tanks and bombers in just three weeks, with who knows how many more buried under the rubble of hundreds of buildings — at least a third of them civilians with women and children by far the majority of that number — and we are told it is those dead women and children who believe in and practice the cult of death.

Well, of course, they are silent now — and even when alive had no voice that people of conscience, like Bruce McQuain, could hear or wanted to hear.

That’s really all of the commentary from the Israel-is-never-wrong crowd that I can take.

I will, however, have more information, commentary, and details about the death, destruction, and suffering inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza in a future post (hopefully either tomorrow or Monday).

UPDATE

Hamas agreed today to a seven-day ceasefire to allow Israel to withdraw its troops from Gaza as a first step toward ending the economic embargo on Gaza and re-opening the border crossings. Israel has not agreed to withdraw its troops, or to lift the sanctions — and Hamas leaders say they reserve the right to resume the fighting if the IDF is not out of Gaza in seven days.

The Washington Post has more.

4 Responses to “Israel’s “Unilateral” Ceasefire”

  1. Israel unilaterally declared a ceasefire yesterday. Of course it quickly vanished when Hamas fired five rockets into Israel. Hamas does not want to cease fire unless it is on their therms. They are concerned about looking defeated in the eyes of the Arab world. In truth, they have been defeated from a military standpoint. The vanishing Israeli cease fire

  2. Chief says:

    TIR,
    From a political standpoint Hamas is winning. World opinion is on the Palestinian’s side.

  3. tas says:

    What, you mean to tell me that Joe the Plumber and Pajamas Media haven’t effected people’s opinion?

  4. Alex says:

    No, liberal world opinion is on the Palestinians side no matter what atrocities Hamas will commit. Sane, rational world opinion will always be with Israel.

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