Thankfully the truce is holding, I say thankfully, with the full knowledge that over 80 percent of the Israel population, have by poll, shown support for the total elimination of Hamas. Level heads in the IDF, and on the political front, are aware that a power vacuum in the Gaza strip might be be worse than a known, weakened, enemy. Better the devil you know, seems to be the thinking.

The fact that this truce is set to end on Friday morning at 8 am, will not have escaped the attention of the people of Southern Israel, and the residents of Gaza. A mad scramble to salvage what can be salvaged, refill the pantry and water containers, and a prayer that the truce will be extended is probably uppermost in their minds right now. In the meantime, all eyes and ears are on Cairo, the talks there will determine the short term prospects of peace. Intransigence by either of the key protagonists in the conflict will see a resumption in hostilities, much to the dismay of the residents in the region who want peace.

Abdul Ghaffar Khan said “The Holy Prophet Mohammed came into this world and taught us: ‘That man is a Muslim who never hurts anyone by word or deed, but who works for the benefit and happiness of God’s creatures. Belief in God is to love one’s fellow men.” That Hamas’ founding charter ignores this completely is not unusual. Extremist Muslims have extracted only what they wish from the Quran, with a view to justify their non-Islamic activities. That they can butcher each other as ISIS is showing in its so called Caliphate, and in Syria, and still profess to be faithful Muslims shows the deprivation that has engulfed the Muslim faith.

A bad peace is better than a good war

An ancient Jewish proverb reads “A bad peace is better than a good war” and this has been taken up by peaceniks around the world. My own favourite writer, Sun Tzu, wrote in the Art of War, “There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.” The Jewish nation has suffered persecution and war for most of it’s existence, and the State of Israel was born into a cauldron of war in 1948, and has not seen a decade without conflict since then. So whilst negotiation of a lasting peace with the Palestinians is a noble goal, realistically, that is not going to happen. How do you negotiate a peace with mask wearing terrorists who are sworn to the elimination of Israel and all Jews? You cant.

Ask any soldier with experience in COIN ops, (Counter Insurgency Operations) about the difficulties in quelling terrorists and insurgencies and you will come away with a simple understanding. It is well nigh impossible. Anybody who believes that the IDF could crush Hamas in a few weeks, clearly does not grasp the complexity of such an operation. Short of carpet bombing Gaza into oblivion, nothing would totally eradicate the extremist threat, and even then, such an action would breed a whole new generation of extremists, and absolute international isolation for Israel. The threat can be minimised as the IDF have done, taking out the tunnels, killing hundreds of Hamas operatives, and destroying arms caches, rocket launchers, and key persons in the terror organisation.

In the COINop groups where I chat with old “comrades in arms,” the topic has been debated at length. South African fought insurgency for 30 years, the British fought the IRA for over half a century. Russia fought the mujaheddin for a decade, STRATFOR in Afghanistan have fought the Taliban for over a decade, and will leave Afghanistan with the Taliban still on the map. Military victory is not the solution – peace cannot be imposed through the barrel of a gun, it has to come from the hearts of those who are tired of war, tired of burying their children.

I am not a pacifist, much to my Pastor’s consternation. In my rather wild youth, we lived by a simple philosophy. Don’t go looking for trouble, but if trouble finds you, don’t run from it either. It matters not how big the opponent is, always hit it as hard as you can, hurt it as much as possible, that way making sure the next time your paths cross, a painful memory will help maintain respect and peace. Yes, we took our lumps and bumps, but seldom from the same person twice. Even a bully hates pain.

I hate being a prophet of gloom and doom, however I don’t think I am alone when my gut feeling tells me this truce is temporary, possibly being extended for another short period, before the parties walk away from the table, and resume hostilities. The polarisation between the Palestinians and Israelis is a yawning chasm, that threatens to swallow any moderate thinking, leaving only the extremes around the conference table. The political ideology of Likud will play a large role in what the Israelis will concede, and what they will not, and Hamas will be driving the Palestinian bus with demands that it feels it needs to attain to maintain support in Gaza. A return to Gaza with no improvement on the status quo will leave Hamas exposed to the moderate appeal of the Abbas grouping. The Israeli negotiating team will also be aware that giving in to demands regarding the blockade, border crossings, settlements, will be seen as a victory for Hamas, and encourage further conflict in the region with Palestinians seeing that Israel will concede after a costly battle, costly in terms of lost warriors, economics and world opinion. Time will tell if my crystal ball is accurate or not.

That Israel has moved the ground troops out of Gaza indicates that they are prepared to return to the July 17th position of attacking rocket launch sites from the air, and as long as the borders are kept under close scrutiny, resupply will be well nigh impossible for the terror groups. This will see rocket attacks from Gaza, testing Iron Domes capabilities, and then dwindling in frequency as supplies run down. This could go on for months and even years, depending the arsenal the jihadi’s have at their disposal in Gaza.

With the two parties so far apart, with almost zero middle ground to start with, the probability of short term peace is extremely remote. That’s my “glass half full” outlook. I would dearly love to be wrong, but I truly cannot see how.

So sadly we wait while the clock ticks, an uneasy time for everyone within reach of the conflict, and their families around the globe.

In closing, I pray that HaShem will extended his protective hands over the IDF men and women who place their lives in harms way, to ensure the safety and freedom of their families and friends at home in Israel, and also that HaShem take care of the innocents who will find themselves in the middle of this war. I pray for the families of the fallen warriors of the IDF may they be comforted, and may the memory of the 64 heroes be a blessing to us all.