Yesterday, Israel and Hamas agreed to a long-term ceasefire. While to many people this sounds like good news, to me it sounds like the calm before the next storm.
Hamas is a terrorist organization who sees this ceasefire as a huge victory. Hamas doesn’t share the values Westerners take for granted, such as the supreme importance of human life or peace. Hamas is not capable of compromise or settling for less than all of their demands. And those demands, at the very heart of them, are about destroying Israel and killing Jews.
For every one of Hamas’s demands, use this line of thinking to understand it better: Based on Hamas’s words and actions, what is going to be the real utility of a given demand? For instance, why do they want an airport? Does anyone believe that the average Palestinian resident is going to be getting on plane?
During this ceasefire, I have no doubt Hamas will just be stalling for time and preparing for a fresh salvo of rockets. While proving to Ha’aretz that not all their tunnels were destroyed, a Hamas fighter said to a reporter “In peace we make preparations, and in war we use what we have readied.”
As of this past spring, Palestinians reported that they no longer trust or support Hamas. Perhaps this conflict has changed some opinions, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Not only are we allowing Hamas to regain their strength (and even get stronger) as they have done in previous times of peace, we are also leaving Palestinians under their control in the interim. I don’t know of a good solution, but I do know this is a problem. For anyone who thinks otherwise, I have one question for you: Even in a time of peace without a blockade, would you want to live under Hamas’s rule?
The fact that Hamas was elected does not mean that they still represent the interests of the Palestinian people. It was a one-off election, and one election does not a democracy make. When is the next election? Is Hamas campaigning to have people’s continued support in the voting booths? If you consider killing anyone suspected of betrayal as part of their campaign, then yes.
To my mind, the unity government with Fatah is just about as far as Hamas will go, and it was most likely done in service of keeping their power and fulfilling their goals. There is talk of an upcoming election, but I’ll only believe it when I see it (and a truly neutral third-party verifies the results). I also do not believe for one second that Mahmoud Abbas or the Palestinian Authority are part of the solution. The fact that they are marginally more sane than Hamas is not a ringing endorsement of their competence; let’s not forget their deep-seated corruption, or that recently they agreed to form a unity government with Hamas, a terrorist organization that refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Like most decent human beings, I don’t relish the thought of more war or of any more casualties on either side. I also don’t have any good answers as to what should be done. However, I don’t think ceasefires, even when mutually-agreed upon, are events to celebrate. I think they are simply an indication of conveniently overlapping interests: Israel wishes to have time to work towards peace, and Hamas wishes to have time to prepare for more war.