Since the cease fire has been implemented in the Gaza area, rockets have been fired from within the Stripe which threaten to destroy the fragile agreement. Last week, Hamas insisted it would not serve as a “policeman” for Israel in order to enforce the cease fire, but apparently wiser heads have decided the truce will collapse unless Hamas exerts its leadership. Mamoud Zahar, a senior Hamas official, made clear to the Islamist Jihad they had to end the rocket attacks. “We have reached an agreement with Islamist Jihad,” he said, “that anyone, even if he’s from Hamas would be arrested and disarmed if he violates the agreement.”
He also noted that several extremists connected with Fatah have been arrested on suspicion they were planning to undermine the cease fire. Israel decided to allow 80 trucks loaded with supplies to enter Gaza. Now, if everyone can hold off shooting, the cease fire might actually produce peaceful results.
Israel and Hamas have agreed to a cease fire which will take effect today, but the war of words between the parties will not cease any time in the near future. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel warned the truce was “fragile and likely to be short-lived” while Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, warned if Israel does not live up to the agreement, his organization will respond with violence. Israel expects an end to rocket attacks and Hamas expects free movement of people and goods in and out of the Gaza strip.
Although, his government has just concluded an agreement which offers a possibility of an end to violence, Prime Minister Olmert could not offer any word of encouragement about the agreement. “Hamas has not changed its skin. These are blood thirsty and despicable terrorists who even today are doing all they can to harm Israel civilians.”
Perhaps, it is asking too much of either party to soften the rhetoric of hate and offer people hope of peace. It might be helpful for Israel to make some dramatic offer of friendship such as inviting Hamas intellectuals to a dialogue on how to achieve peace between the two groups. Or, offering use of Israel hospital facilities for Hamas patients in need of high quality medical treatment. The words of peace may fail, but if never uttered no one will ever know if they could make an impact.
An Israel delegation arrived in Cairo today to pursue further discussions with Egyptian mediators and Hamas officials for a long term cease fire in Gaza. The Israel Cabinet has decided to call off plans for a full blown invasion of Gaza and will work with Hamas in order to end violence in the Gaza area. General Amos Gilad will draw upon the talent of Egyptian Intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, to finalize details on the cease fire. The cease fire entails an end to rocket attacks from Gaza, an end to any terrorist attack emanating from Gaza, and assurances that all terrorist groups in Gaza agree to these ideas. In return, Israel will lift its blockade of Gaza.
The agreement is composed of three stages. In stage one, all rocket and terrorist attacks will end. After a few weeks, Stage 2 will kick in with Israel gradually lifting the blockade. In stage 3, all aspects of the blockade will end and Gazans will have freedom to move in an out of the Strip.
Fortunately, calmer heads have asserted themselves and hindered efforts by war hawks for violence which would have made impossible any peace between Israel and Palestinians leaders.