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.
An Israel Think Tank report issued on Thursday describes how Hamas has built up a powerful fighting force that will confront any Israel invasion of the Gaza Strip. The Inteligence and Terrorism Information center believes Hamas now controls about 20,000 well-armed men who are prepared to fight until death. Hamas military capabilities are based on the Izzedin al-Kassam Brigades, the group’s military arm. The Hamas strategy should Israel invade would be avoiding any fighting in open areas and compel Israel troops to fight them in urban areas where guerrilla warfare is more effective.
The assumption of Hamas is that Israel has not learned anything from its Lebanon experience. In all likelihood, Israel forces will avoid getting sucked into a bloody street fight with Hamas. Most probably, the IDF will resort to bombing attacks which will result in the death of thousands of innocent civilians.
The scenario of death can be replaced with a scenario of peace It is now imperative for the Bush administration to shift emphasis from refusing contact with Hamas to a Middle Eastern conference in which Israel takes the first step by announcing an end to further housing construction on the West Bank or in East Jerusalem.
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Tagged DF, Gaza Strip, Hamas