The current Gaza conflict Tzuk Eitan meaning “strong cliff” also know as “Operation Protective Edge” was officially started on July 8, 2014 between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). It is the deadliest conflict between Israel and its enemies in the region since the second Intifada “uprising” that took place between 2000 and 2005. The death toll is now over 2,200 and growing, and much of Gaza has been leveled leaving over 100,000 people without homes.
During this almost two-month long conflict, many attempts have been made to bring it to an end. Various officials such as US Secretary of State John Kerry, the Egyptian government and others have entered the Middle East arena and tried to initiate several cease-fires between Hamas and Israel. Many would agree that the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap for Peace are dead and that a peace process in the Middle East isn’t even on the table at the current time.
There are different levels of international agreements between countries that have been at war with each other either temporary or permanent, unilateral or bilateral. The most fragile, yet most common temporary agreement between two entities at war is the “cease-fire”.
There has been eleven cease-fires since the start of the Gaza War, all broken by Hamas, and several within minutes of being brokered. This makes one wonder about the real motives behind Hamas’ acceptance of these numerous truces? A simple yet sobering message about the cease-fires has been traveling the endless byways of the social networks, and it states:“Israel: ceases, Hamas: fires!”. Sadly, it would appear to be the case.
So the question remains:”What makes this latest cease-fire any different and will it hold?”. I am afraid that the current open-ended cease-fire might just be a short respite, not to rebuild the destroyed civilian infrastructures in Gaza, but simply to reorganize and rearm as Hamas prepares for the next round in their attempt at fulfilling their unaltered destructive agenda. Iran and Qatar have been the main financial backing to supply Hamas with their arsenal and will continue do so.
Even if Hamas is found rebuilding civilian facilities, there is a very good chance that they are doing it to refurbish their missile launching areas with buildings that can be packed with civilians used as human shields. It has been said that “ignorance is bliss”, but in the case of Hamas using their own people as human shields, the willful ignorance of pro-Palestinians and pro-Hamas people turns them into accomplices.
Hamas agreed to this latest cease-fire with Israel, yet both sides have a very different set of expectations. That shouldn’t really be a surprise since there is no moral equivalence between the two parties.
From Hamas’ perspective it appears to be a victory, at least from the public displays of celebration witnessed on the streets of Gaza and even beyond, in Ramallah. Even though Hamas has been severely crippled by the loss of several key leaders in the process, the message from Khaled Mashaal is still clear as he recently said:” this is not the end. This is just a milestone to reaching our objective, we know that Israel is strong and is aided by the international community. We will not restrict our dreams or make compromises to our demands.”
It is an unequivocal fact taken straight from their charter, that Hamas only desires the destruction of Israel. As a matter of fact, ideologically, Hamas lines up with Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and ISIS. Their goals are identical even if some of their methods have various degrees of radicalism.
From Israel’s perspective, it has been a very costly war so far. The death toll is not nearly as high as the Palestinian death toll, but that doesn’t make it right, as common sense and decency will dictate that even one lost life is too many. Prime Minister Netanyahu is receiving a fair amount of criticism from other parts of his government for what appears to be a war that was neither lost nor won, but nevertheless very costly. His ratings are down, yet most in Israel know deep down that this current cease-fire is unstable at best and that it is still under Netanyahu’s leadership that they might soon have to finish the job that was started in July.
Some have suggested that the Gaza War was becoming another war of attrition like the one involving Israel and Egypt between 1967 and 1970. The problem with that concept is that you don’t really deal with terrorists the same way that you deal with a militarized and somewhat “civilized” power. You cannot really deter terrorists; you must defeat them by disarming them and destroying their infrastructure. Period!
At this point, there is not a whole lot that Israel can do to garner support from those who have already pledged their allegiance to the other side. Additionally, the Palestinian authority is conveniently finding itself a few weeks away from their yearly UN visit in September where they plan to demand an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria and a huge part of Jerusalem.
As I see it, the current cease-fire might last until the end of September simply because it would serve its purpose into further painting the Palestinians as complying victims seeking a peaceful solution. In the meantime, of course, Hamas will regroup and rearm, making itself ready for the next round of their jihad.
Rabbi Moses Maimonides said in the twelfth of his thirteen articles of Jewish faith: “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry nonetheless, I wait everyday for his coming.”
I would concur with Maimonides in his yearning for the Messiah and the messianic age for the simple reason that only under the banner of Mashiach Sar Shalom will we all see real peace. It will be a peace that includes the absence of war but also goes way beyond that concept to incorporate peace between men and between mankind and Hashem. Isaiah spoke of that redeemer in several places but especially in chapters 52:13-53:12 where Mashiach is described in a powerful and graphic way as having to come for his people once to atone for their sins (Mashiach ben Yosef) and once again to establish His kingdom on earth (Mashiach ben David).
So, in spite of all the cease-fires broken or respected, I declare that I wholeheartedly believe with perfect faith in the coming back of the Messiah; and even though he may tarry nonetheless, I wait everyday for his coming.”