Images of Hamas and its supporters dancing in victory upon the ruins of Gaza on Tuesday (pictured) as an open-ended ceasefire came into effect seemed ridiculous to outside observers. But expressions of defeat coming from much of Israel suggested that perhaps the terrorists had won the summer's Gaza war, in their own deprived way.
The battered residents of southern Israel were clear: “Israel surrendered to terror” by failing to destroy Hamas and accepting a truce that left the terrorists fully armed. The next Gaza war is only a matter of time, they insisted.
Israeli government officials tried to put a positive spin on the situation, noting that Hamas, and Gaza as a whole, had suffered a major blow.
Indeed, over 2,000 Gazans were killed during the war, a great many of them Hamas militants, compared to just 70 dead Israelis, two of whom were killed in Hamas’ final barrage against the Jewish state minutes before the ceasefire came into effect.
Hamas’ massive network of tunnels had also been largely demolished, and its stockpile of missiles nearly depleted or otherwise destroyed in pinpoint aerial strikes.
But, at the end of the day, Hamas gave nothing. The rules of war are quite different for such groups, some in Israel argued, and so Hamas can quite rightly claim victory, despite its tremendous losses.
That was the view indirectly expressed by several members of Israel’s security cabinet, who were furious that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire without first seeking their input.
The terms of the deal Netanyahu accepted were these:
- Both sides will immediately implement an open-ended ceasefire (which they did on Tuesday afternoon);
- Gaza border crossings will be opened for the import of humanitarian aid and supplies for reconstruction;
- Gaza’s fishing zone will be extended further into the Mediterranean.
The Hamas demands that did not make the final cut were:
- The development of sea and air ports in Gaza;
- The release of Hamas terrorists arrested in Judea and Samaria over the past two months;
- The transfer of salaries to Hamas officials in Gaza.
The Israeli conditions removed from the final draft included:
- The demilitarization of Gaza;
- A mechanism to prevent Hamas from rearming;
- The return of the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers taken by Hamas during the Gaza war.
This summer the citizens of Israel’s south have been especially affected and are struggling, not only from the emotional and psychological impact of rockets from Gaza, but also from dire economic hardships resulting from the war.
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