ISRAEL has agreed to a ceasefire in Gaza and freeing of 150 Palestinian terrorists jailed in Israel in exchange for the release of 50 of the circa 240 hostages kidnapped by Hamas on October 7. There will be four days of ceasefire, including six hours of no aerial surveillance by Israel during each of those days. The four days can be extended, with the release of an additional ten hostages for each day of extension, although it is unclear as to which party blinks first in order for the extension to be enacted.
Overall, this seems like a display of weakness on the part of the Israelis and a significant victory for the terror group. Israel has bowed to external and internal pressure for this ceasefire, gaining back some of its stolen citizens, but potentially losing the momentum it has achieved in its attempt to destroy Hamas in Gaza. Hamas has been given the opportunity to regroup, and re-assess its strategy and end-game, as well as play the good guy to the ever-supplicant media by giving up some of its human hostage shield.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists the war will continue unabated after this ceasefire period. Maybe it will, but when will the ceasefire end? Once the first four days have passed it would not be surprising if Hamas start playing games with the watching world, teasing out further concessions – with a further 200 or so hostages to dangle as bait, and playing to the crowd, it will be investigating all possibilities to force Israel to give way further and eventually to withdraw from Gaza. If it does, it will have won this war, Israel will lose face in the Middle East, and the Palestinians of Gaza will be back as the disposable chaff of Hamas’s ambitions of harvesting a State from the river to the sea by means of a Jewish genocide.
This is going to be a tense four days. How long will the ceasefire hold from the Hamas side? There will be itchy fingers on the firing buttons of the rocket launchers during those six hours each day when Israel has no aerial sight of Gaza. If Hamas says ‘Oops, sorry, didn’t mean to do that,’ what will Israel do? There will be too much pressure to retaliate, or cancel the ceasefire. Or will Hamas stay quiet, to gain even more of the sympathy vote from the media and other Israel-haters? Perhaps Hezbollah will increase its attacks from Lebanon as Hamas regroups.
Is this ceasefire simply a temporary setback for Israel, necessary to appease the Biden administration’s political whims, and get the armament resupplies and other materiel requirements necessary to finish the job? The ceasefire is one up for Hamas in the politics of this war. Behind the scenes the organisation will be working every angle it can to get Israel to abate its war and work some way of surviving in Gaza, chipping away at Israel’s objectives until perhaps the only thing left is the return of the hostages for Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza. This is the point at which we will see Israel’s true courage and resolve in the face of growing international political opposition to its war.
Stop Press: The games have started already, before the ceasefire has even begun. Qatar announces at the (literal) 11th hour – 11pm – that the commencement, originally due to start at 7am tomorrow, will be delayed by one day as Hamas has yet to sign the ceasefire agreement.