It seems that both Hamas and Israel have declared unilateral truces independent of each other. However Hamas keeps firing rockets at Israel.
Gaza terrorists continued to attack southern Israeli civilian areas on Sunday afternoon, despite the fact that the Israeli unilateral cease-fire had already been in effect since early that morning.Naturally the Israelis have responded.
The IAF struck back, hitting a terror cell and a launching pad.So how is Hamas doing? They are doing their usual pretending to be the victors except when they are pretending to be the victims.
Earlier Sunday, Hamas operatives in the Beit Lahiya area shot at IDF soldiers, who returned fire. An IAF helicopter then shot the gunmen, the IDF reported. Mortar shells were also fired at the troops.
There was an understanding in the IDF that it would take time for Hamas to make a decision as well as to transmit orders to all of its different operatives on the ground.
Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal announced on Syrian television on Sunday afternoon that the Islamic group would implement a cease-fire in which they would halt all military activity and give IDF troops one week to pull out of the Gaza Strip.That is the ticket guys. Promise to end all military activity while still shelling Israel. And if Israel doesn't pull out in a week Hamas can always declare a new truce.
According to the statement, Israel must end the blockade and open the border crossings.The Israelis have a different idea about what the truce entails.
A leader of the Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip said that his group agreed to the Hamas truce, and said that other smaller Palestinian factions have signed on, as well.
The development comes after Israel declared a unilateral cease-fire which took effect earlier Sunday morning.
Shortly after it announced a unilateral cease-fire in Gaza, Israel said on Sunday it will not consider a timetable for withdrawing all of its forces from the Gaza Strip until Hamas and other militant groups halt their attacks.Of course time tables are for trains and I think that is one train the Jews are not getting on.
"We can't talk about a timetable for withdrawal until we know the ceasefire is holding," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, rebuffing United Nations calls for setting a timetable.
"If there is a danger Hamas is going to deliberately torpedo the cease-fire, and we will have to reinitiate offensive actions against Hamas, for that reason we have to be reticent about withdrawing our forces."Evidently the Israelis consider Hamas' behavior an open invitation to stay in Gaza. I think I said a few years ago that if giving Gaza to the Philistines didn't work out the Israelis could always take it back without too much difficulty. It will be interesting to see if Hamas wants Gaza back badly enough to cease the rocket attacks.
"If the ceasefire holds, we can start a process of moving out," Regev added.
Olmert earlier on Sunday branded Israel's cease-fire in Gaza as fragile and said the Israel Defense Forces was free to respond to attacks by Gaza militants.
"Israeli forces inside the Gaza Strip and many more encircling the Gaza Strip are...prepared to act in any area in accordance with their commanders' orders if and when the cease-fire violations, such as those that occurred this morning, continue," Olmert added at the cabinet meeting.Olmert is actually acting like a leader these days. He says if Hamas wants more he is more than willing to see that they get some.
Late Saturday night, the prime minister said the IDF would only leave Gaza if Hamas ceased its rocket attacks. Olmert made the pledge as he announced a unilateral cease-fire in the coastal strip.
"If Hamas entirely ends its rocket fire on Israel, Israel will consider an IDF withdrawal from the Gaza Strip," Olmert declared.
If that did not occur, he said, "The IDF will continue to operate in order to protect our citizens."
"If our enemies decide the blows they've been dealt have not been sufficient and they are interested in continuing the fight, Israel will be prepared for such and feel free to continue to react with force," the premier added.Molon labe indeed. And there is a carrot to go with the stick.
Israel said on Sunday it will be prepared to sharply increase the flow of food and medicine to Gaza if the unilateral cease-fire holds, but it ruled out fully lifting a blockade until captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit is freed.It will be interesting to see in the coming days how much Hamas is willing to give up to get what it wants.
"If the quiet holds, there will not be any problem dramatically increasing aid like food and medicine. If this quiet holds, we will work with the international community for reconstruction," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Olmert.
"But you can't have anything close to full normalization of the crossings as long as Gilad Shalit remains a hostage," Regev added. Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid in 2006.
So you may ask why was Israel interested in a cease fire without an agreement with Hamas? The answer is from a report from over two weeks ago that said Israel was running out of targets. And that is not all. My guess is that Israel had no intention of taking Gaza city. No doubt Hamas in its usual efficient style had booby trapped a number of buildings in Gaza City just waiting for the Israelis to come in. Now the Hamas engineers will be responsible for removing the booby traps. Saving Israeli lives and costing Hamas some of its engineers as the inevitable mistakes happen.
Despite Israelis "loss" in the 2006 Lebanon War things have been quiet (mostly) on that border. I think the same thing will happen to Gaza. In time.
Cross Posted at Classical Values