Cease-fire shakeout


It’s going to take time for the Hamas-Israel cease-fire to take hold, which is why Israel’s military hasn’t responded to the firing of Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip over the last three weeks, Ha’aretz writes in an editorial. Hamas is trying, Ha’aretz says:

Hamas’ public effort to fully keep its commitment is evident. The Hamas mufti has called anyone who fires a Qassam a “criminal,” and its leadership is declaring that the Qassams damage Palestinian interests…

This does not mean Israel must sit on its hands and do nothing for six months, absorbing Qassams with no response just so the cease-fire will be observed on its part. However, it must allow the Palestinians the opportunity to enforce the agreement, without playing into the hands of gangs or splinter organizations, thereby crushing the responsible party in Gaza at the moment.

Meanwhile, Ynet’s Alex Fishman writes that Israel has failed to take advantage of the relative lull in the fighting to improve defenses in Israel’s Gaza-adjacent communities to prepare for the next round of rocket attacks:

The ceasefire is the first lull in Hamas’ “war of independence” since it took over Gaza. The group uses every moment in this lull in order to better organize and build up strength ahead of the next round of fighting. And what do our leaders do in order to take advantage of the lull ahead of the next round? Nothing. We’re on vacation…

If the homes are not fortified people will be leaving…

Seemingly, the lull came at the right time. Residents could have expected to see their communities flooded by contractors and laborers the moment quiet prevailed, with secured rooms being constructed at a dizzying pace. After all, this is what was decided; this is precisely what the government promised.

Moreover, it is clear to everyone that the relative quiet brought by the lull is only temporary, and that every day that passes without it being used for building fortifications and improving our anti-rocket alert system is a wasted day. Yet for the time being, nothing has changed on the ground. Not one brick has been laid, and no wall has been moved.

On Sunday, Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff of Ha’aretz wrote that captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit has turned into a hostage of the crisis over Gaza’s border crossings, which Israel has been closing in response to rocket attacks from Gaza.

They write:

Hamas has shown itself to be genuinely interested in a lull in the fighting, but at the same time is unable to rein in the smaller factions operating in Gaza. Israel, in search of ways to at least ensure quiet, has turned to an old standby in its campaign for calm and again sealed the crossings.

Israel hopes that renewed economic pressure will lead the public in Gaza to apply pressure on the Hamas leadership, which in turn will seek to assert its authority over the smaller terror groups.

In the past week, it has become abundantly clear that Hamas refuses to play into Israel’s hands. Its spokesman announced that each time Israel closes the crossings in response to rocket fire, it will suspend talks over a prisoner exchange for Shalit.

Recommended from JTA