Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Here we go...

And a little over a week after the one-week ceasefire was announced, what passed for peace here in Israel might be crumbling. I desperately hope not, but after events this morning, we'll have to wait and see. In case you didn't know, an Israeli soldier was killed and three were wounded this morning when the jeep they were in hit a mine during a standard patrol on part of the Gaza strip perimeter. Consequently Israel was drawn into a relatively low-key gun battle with terrorists and an Arab farmer caught in the crossfire was killed. A number of drones and helicopters were deployed on aerial patrols and one caused a sonic boom over Gaza by way of a statement from the IDF. (EDIT: Later on in the afternooon, 20 tanks and 7 armoured bulldozers backed up by air support entered Gaza but did not engage in heavy fighting. An air strike targeted a terrorist on a motorbike, causing him and a bystander severe injuries, but other than that nobody was reported injured.)

People have asked me whether the ceasefire will hold and I have told them that I am very pessimistic. Hamas undoubtedly want to attack Israel, and have never seen a ceasefire as a reason to actually cease their fire. During the six month period between June and December last year when an uneasy calm existed between Israel and Gaza, there were still over 300 rockets and mortars fired into Israeli terrirtory in defiance of the supposed "Hudna." If Olmert, Livni and Peres were serious when they said Israel had to change the status quo and that it will no longer tolerate such a threat and will respond to each and every rocket, then all Hamas has to do to grab the initiative is to fire a high volume of rockets into Israel. If we do not respond, we will be externally perceived as weak and internally perceived as unable to back up our assurances to the residents of Sderot and Ashkelon, and if we respond then the ceasefire will disappear and we will back in a war-like situation. I fully expect Hamas will most likely wait till closer to the elections and then step up rocket attacks once again to test this theory out. Either way, the Israeli government made a terrible mistake in withdrawing from Gaza as it did - it undermined a huge amount of progress. Hamas can now rebuild it's tunnels, (it already is, and furiously so,) and wait till the right time to attack again.

When will we learn?

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