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Thread: Breaking: Israel 'to announce ceasefire'

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    Re: Breaking: Israel 'to announce ceasefire'

    At the time of Israel's unilateral declaration of a ceasefire, I felt that such a move was premature given that no credible mechanisms were in place to stop the flow of arms into the Gaza Strip. Already, there is evidence that Hamas has renewed its smuggling activities.

    From a January 21, 2009 Associated Press article published in the Detroit Free Press:

    AP Television News footage shows Palestinian smugglers today filling a fuel truck with gas that came through a cross-border tunnel from Egypt. The footage also shows workers busy clearing blocked tunnels and bulldozers carrying out other repairs.

    One of the stated goals of the Israeli offensive was to stop the smuggling through the hundreds of tunnels under the border. The goods coming through have included a steady flow of medium-range rockets and other weapons.
    Smuggling from Egypt into Gaza resurfaces | Freep.com | Detroit Free Press

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    Re: Breaking: Israel 'to announce ceasefire'

    Quote Originally Posted by donsutherland1 View Post
    At the time of Israel's unilateral declaration of a ceasefire, I felt that such a move was premature given that no credible mechanisms were in place to stop the flow of arms into the Gaza Strip. Already, there is evidence that Hamas has renewed its smuggling activities.

    From a January 21, 2009 Associated Press article published in the Detroit Free Press:



    Smuggling from Egypt into Gaza resurfaces | Freep.com | Detroit Free Press

    This is proof thay my earlier post regarding the Egyptian FM's motives regarding the cease fire treaty.

    The Egyptian FM is responsible for any blood shed with those rockets.

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    Re: Breaking: Israel 'to announce ceasefire'

    Earlier in this thread, I noted my disappointment that Israel did not tie the ceasefire and/or troop withdrawal to Hamas' release of Cpl. Shalit. Israel had an opportunity to use its on-the-ground successes to gain greater leverage in bringing an end to the hostage situation. It passed on that opportunity, even as added leverage could only be helpful.

    Now, with the ceasefire in place and Israel's troops having withdrawn from the Gaza Strip, such leverage as might have existed to help bring an end to the hostage situation has evaporated. Not surprisingly, today's edition of The Jerusalem Post reported that there has been no progress with respect to Israel's efforts to secure Cpl. Shalit's release. Furthermore, it noted that some in Jerusalem are looking to expand Israel's concessions toward that end.

    Relevant excerpts follow:

    Nevertheless, following Gilad's [Amos Gilad, who heads the Defense Ministry's diplomatic-military bureau] talks in Cairo, Army Radio quoted a Ramallah source as saying that there was no progress on the Schalit issue, and, Abu Mujahid, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, one of the groups behind Schalit's abduction, said that demands for the captive's release were unchanged.

    Meanwhile, a Jerusalem official told Reuters that Israel should show more flexibly in a deal for the captured soldier and should even release Palestinian inmates responsible for large-scale terror attacks. According the official, Hamas had been severely weakened in the IDF's Operation Cast Lead and therefore, a prisoner swap wouldn't significantly strengthen the group.


    My guess remains that in the absence of sufficient leverage, Hamas and the other terrorist entities responsible for the hostage situation are not likely to free Cpl. Shalit. They likely view the situation as an invaluable symbol of "victory" and are not keen to bring an end to the situation. Should Israel offer fresh concessions--and the type of prisoners being discussed by some would create a security hazard--the terrorist entities will more than likely choose to wait to see what new concessions might be offered afterward. In the absence of sufficient leverage, only hugely disproportionate concessions would lead the terrorist organizations to free their hostage.

    Finally, the continuing stalemate in the hostage situation and loss of Israeli leverage from what I believe is a premature ceasefire, not to mention rapid withdrawal of the IDF, could play a role in bringing about a change in Israel's government. Should Israelis conclude that the ceasefire fell short of meeting Israel's needs (as opposed to the more limited objectives set forth at the start of Cast Lead) and progress on the hostage situation remain non-existent, they could opt for what they would hope would be a tougher government headed by Likud's Binyamin Netanyahu. Already, some polls give the Likud a small edge over Kadima.

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    Re: Breaking: Israel 'to announce ceasefire'

    At the time Israel announced its ceasefire in Gaza, I believed that it was premature and that it took pressure off Hamas at a time when Hamas was showing signs of weakening. Then, Israel initially planned to retain a presence in the Gaza Strip until Hamas ceased its rocket attacks and a viable mechanism for ending smuggling was created. Shortly thereafter, Israel withdrew its troops from the Gaza, including the Philadelphi Corridor through which a large proportion of smuggling occurs.

    Less than two months later, as those who understand the region's dynamics largely expected, things stand pretty much as they did before Cast Lead. Such an outcome is no surprise. One can find similar precedents of a foe that is left on its own rebuilding and redeploying its military power. For example, in his Histories Polybius wrote of Rome around 387/386 B.C.:

    The Gauls had seized Rome itself by force and were in possession of all but the Capitol. The Romans negotiated peace terms and a settlement satisfactory to the Gauls, and, having become once more masters of their country, against their expectations, they began...their expansion and in the years following opened war on their neighbors.

    In unilaterally ending Operation Cast Lead, Israel didn't even secure the settlement that was satisfactory to its terms. It merely ended its operations with the hope that Hamas would be deterred. For a short time, some deterrence existed, but as Hamas resumed its smuggling, gradually began launching new attacks, and saw Israel willing to pay an exorbitant price for Cpl. Shalit's release, deterrence disappeared.

    Now, the environment is defined by:

    - Hamas and other terrorist organizations regularly fire rockets into southern Israel.
    - Despite Egyptian efforts, smuggling continues.
    - Cpl. Gilad Shalit remains a hostage.

    I believe the outgoing Olmert Government has failed badly to use the opportunity created by the on-the-ground situation toward the end of Cast Lead to extract meaningful security concessions from Hamas, as well as Cpl. Shalit's release. Incoming Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would do well to address the issue of Gaza's terrorist activity and use such pressure as is necessary to gain Cpl. Shalit's unconditional freedom early on. He should make clear that the failure of Hamas to satisfy both conditions will lead to a significant and long-standing Israeli military presence in critical sections of the Gaza Strip such as the Philadelphi Corridor and adjacent areas necessary to secure that corridor to shut down smuggling, as well as checkpoints at critical junctures to limit Hamas' ability to exercise command and control.

    Clearly, there will be critics. But Israel, like any other sovereign state, has an inherent right of self-defense and the criticism has no bearing whatsoever on the existence of that right. If Israel's international critics are keen on a different approach, Israel should insist that they secure the necessary commitments from Hamas to end the rocketfire and the release of Cpl. Shalit to change the situation. If not, Israel should act as necessary to defend itself against a situation that has again grown intolerable. In doing so, Israel should be guided strictly by concrete results, not by hopes or wishful thinking.

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    Re: Breaking: Israel 'to announce ceasefire'

    The high cost of a premature ceasefire that took pressure off Hamas at a time when Hamas was beginning to exhibit signs of weakening can be seen in the latest news reports concerning Hamas' increasing its demands concerning Cpl. Gilad Shalit. The Jerusalem Post reported:

    Hamas has toughened its stance regarding the release of Gilad Schalit, gone back on understandings that were agreed upon during the past year, and has raised extreme demands, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement released late Monday night.

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