Truly do I wish I knew how to coherently describe what is going on now with regard to Hamas. But the situation is terribly unclear and fluid. There is no closure, no finality. IDF troops have definitely pulled back from portions of Gaza, and lend the impression that the operation is close to an end.
Some troops have been pulled out and are being given a break, with the understanding that they might go back in.
Yet, today, the JPost cites a senior IDF figure thus (emphasis added):
“There is no decision to stop the operation. We are preparing to attack, not only to defend. If a decision is made that this is necessary, we will attack."
It could not really be otherwise, as the south of Israel is still being hit rather fiercely by Hamas rockets.
At the same time, Palestinian Arab delegations – Hamas and the PA, with other smaller groups such as Islamic Jihad - have shown up in Cairo to begin the “negotiations” that Israel will not be attending.
Other “international” figures such as Tony Blair are also present.
The agenda called for those Arab delegations to first meet amongst themselves regarding a joint position, which they would then take to the Egyptians. And word tonight is that the delegations have already agreed:
“Cease-fire, the pullout of Israeli forces, ending the blockade, releasing the prisoners ... and starting the reconstruction process..” And an end to Israeli “incursions, invasions, assassinations, house shelling and flights over the Gaza Strip.” They are also demanding free passage between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, freedom of fishing within 12 miles of the coast, reopening the Palestinian airport in the southern Gaza Strip, construction of a seaport and cancellation of buffer zones along the border with Israel.
Cute? A pretty comprehensive list.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. Israel is in constant touch with the Egyptians. At some point Egypt is going to come forward with a “plan,” which will not incorporate all of the above demands but may well honor some of them.
Both the Egyptians and the US are pressuring Netanyahu to join the talks. The very excessive nature of the Arab demands surely will stiffen his back. It is terribly important that the terrorists in Gaza not be rewarded for agreeing to stop launching rockets at us, and that he hold to his position that Hamas cannot be trusted to honor commitments.
It may be that something is transpiring behind the scenes that we are unaware of. Our prime minister, who is under breathtaking pressure in this situation, may know what he is doing. Who knows what “other options” he is weighing.
But I write today with an enormous sense of unease. We cannot permit this to end badly for Israel. And I am hardly the only one who would like to see a definitive victory.
That Hamas is still launching rockets at us means they are not yet on their knees. Their leaders are still hiding out – whether in Qatar or in tunnels under Gaza City. As long as the heads of some of them have not been separated from their shoulders, they will emerge from their tunnels with intent of rebuilding.
The risks of a reinvigorated Hamas, which manages to secure even better weapons for next time – perhaps because demilitarization has not been genuinely enforced, not genuinely embraced by the international community – do not bear thinking about.
My friends, this is an existential issue for us. We cannot allow ourselves to be defeated by the likes of that Palestinian Arab mother who loves death.
We here in Israel are all moving about with heavy hearts. None of this is simple for us.