10.25am:Netanyahu responds to critics
Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu has defended the ceasefire agreement in response to online critics who urged his government to continue the assault on Gaza.
There was unusual level of hostile comments about the agreement on Netanyahu’s Facebook page +972 notes.
In response a post under Netanyahu’s name said:
I realise that there are citizens who expect a harsher military action and we may very well need to do that. But at present, the right thing for the State of Israel is to exhaust this possibility of reaching a long-term cease-fire. As prime minister, I have the responsibility, and it is the highest responsibility, to make the right steps to ensure our security. That is what I have done and it is what I will continue to do.
Israel says it has arrested 55 “terror operatives” in the West Bank, with public radio saying it included members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, AFP reports.
An editorial in Haaretz says that Israel has attempted to sever the connection between Gaza and the West Bank. It calls such a policy “unrealistic” and chastises the Israeli government, which it says “avoids every opportunity for peace negotiations”.
It is impossible to disconnect what has been happening in Gaza from the violent demonstrations in the West Bank, which express opposition to the IDF’s actions in Gaza and identification with acts of terror that will be conducted against Israel …
The policy of ‘divide and rule’ that Israel has adopted in the two parts of the Palestinian Authority can no longer guarantee quiet and stability, or surrender and political obedience from the Palestinians. And that is why, even when a cease-fire agreement is reached in Gaza, and the terrorists who planted the bomb in the bus in Tel Aviv are caught, there will be no alternative but to sober up: The key to thwarting terror is primarily in the peace process and not in the use of force.
How long can the truce hold?
Analysts in Israel are saying that, if the ceasefire holds, Netanyahu can justifiably claim to have restored quiet to the south of the country, writes Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem.
But most say the key question is how long is will hold for.
“Nobody deludes themselves, there will be a next round, but if Operation Pillar of Defence delayed it for a long while – that’s enough,” wrote defence analyst Alex Fishman in Yedioth Ahronoth.
Yossi Alpher told the Guardian a clear objective of the operation had been achieved. “A lot of damage has been done to Hamas’s command and logistics infrastructure. This will become clear to the Hamas leadership in the coming days as they get out of their bunkers.” But, he added, the ceasefire agreement “will probably not hold much longer than previous ceasefire agreements”.
Alpher and other analysts pointed to the hugely significant role of the Egyptians. “The most important outcome is the fact that Egypt has set itself up as the arbiter [of the agreement]. How that’s going to work, we don’t yet know.”
The end of military hostilities has signalled the resumption of political attacks in Israel’s election campaign, with polling day less than two months away.
Shaul Mofaz, leader of the Kadima party, said: “The goals were not achieved. There is no security for the residents of southern Israel and of central Israel. Deterrence was not restored. There was no resolution. Hamas achieved exactly what it wanted.”
Shelley Yachimovich, the Labour Party leader, said: “Is this a strategic achievement for Israel? I hope that it is, for the sake of Israel’s citizens. Unfortunately, I am not persuaded that it is.”
Netanyahu may lose support from right wing voters, warned Mazal Mualem, writing in Ma’ariv. The right “feels as if the prime minister was scared to go all the way and that he displayed weakness towards Hamas. Feelings of this sort are liable to have, and will have, an effect on voting patterns. Luckily for Netanyahu, those feelings don’t have alternative options: [Avigdor] Lieberman, who could have picked up the disappointed votes, is on a joint list with Netanyahu.”
The +972 blog, which takes its name from the telephone code shared by Palestinians and Israelis, has a clear analysis of the Gaza conflict.
1. Hamas is strengthened after it fired rockets that reached Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and gained new status on the international stage.
2. The Palestinian authority has become more marginalised and the prospects of a unified leadership across the West Bank and Gaza have become more remote.
3. The success rate of Israel’s Iron Dome missile system appeared to have averted a ground invasion.
But looking ahead it points out that the conditions which led to the violence remain in place.
If anything was proven last week (and the couple of months leading up to it), it’s that “containment” and other code words for the status quo are not an option. It’s time to examine the entire Israeli and international policy regarding Gaza, and most importantly, to address the right of the Palestinian population to dignity, justice and hope. Only then can this ceasefire become more than an introduction to the next escalation.
Truce holding in Gaza
Gazans woke to discover the ceasefire had survived its first few hours, writes Chris McGreal from Gaza City.
The mosque loud speakers, largely silenced over the past week of fighting, resumed their dawn calls to prayer. Gaza’s diminished and struggling fishing fleet once again put to sea, albeit under the watch of Israeli gunboats and constrained by tight Israeli restrictions on where they can work.
Gaza City’s notorious traffic jams once again began to build as Palestinians returned to work, or to clean up the wreckage of their shops and businesses. Convenience stores and cafes pulled up the shutters for the first time in a week.
But the incessant buzz of the Israeli drones, like an annoying unseen insect, is a constant reminder that a halt to the rockets is not an end to conflict.
Many people in Gaza regard the ceasefire as a victory for Hamas which is seen as having resisted a deliberate escalation in violence by the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in order to bolster support in January’s general election.
But they also know that the truce deal will do little to diminish the hardships of daily life.
Welcome to Middle East Live.
Here’s a roundup of the latest developments:
A dozen rockets from the Gaza Strip landed in Israel, all in open areas, a police spokesman said. In Gaza, witnesses reported an explosion shortly after the truce took effect at 9 pm (1900 GMT), but there were no casualties and the cause was unclear.
The exiled leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, said his movement would respect the truce if Israel did, but would respond to any violations. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had agreed to “exhaust this opportunity for an extended truce”, but told his people a tougher approach might be required in the future.
• Both sides are claiming victory in a deal which Israel promised to end assassinations and incursions into Gaza in return for all Palestinian factions agreeing to end cross-border attacks into Israel. But the most important features of the deal [full text] are what it left out, Ian Black argues. There are no details on how and where the border crossings will be opened. And there is no pledge from Egypt on controlling the flow of weapons into Gaza.
Adel Mansour in Gaza said:
Israel begged for a ceasefire because it could not stop our rockets. They bombed us, they killed our women and children, but they could not stop the resistance. So they had to surrender and agree to stop the assassinations. They learned we cannot be defeated by their bombs.
In Israel, David Magriso, a lawyer who earlier rushed to the scene of Wednesday’s Tel Aviv bus bombing from his nearby offices, said:
I want to be optimistic, but I can’t rule out being pessimistic. We hope that we will have quiet. I have no doubt that it will hold from our side, but terror organisations do not have the same discipline.
• The Israeli Defence Forces have listed seven Hamas and Islamic Jihad commanders who it claims were targeted during operation ‘pillar of defence’. In a summary of the campaign it said: “Throughout the operation, the IDF did everything that it could to minimize harm to civilians in Gaza.”
• The UN security council and its secretary general welcomed the ceasefire and stressed that it is imperative that both sides stick to it. Ban Ki-moon said: “Our focus now must be on ensuring the ceasefire holds and that all those in need in Gaza – and there are many – receive the humanitarian assistance that they need.” In a statement the security council echo this and praised Egypt’s president Mohammed Morsi for his role in securing the deal.
Hamas has been elevated into the position of a contender for the leadership of the PLO. Is this what the Israeli premier intended? Or has he just discovered the limits of the use of force? Instead of trying to wipe Hamas out, perhaps Mr Netanyahu should try talking to them.
• The commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards has publicly admitted that his forces supplied Hamas with the knowhow to develop Fajr-5 missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv. Mohammad Ali Jafari said: “We are honoured to announce that we gave them the technology of how to make Fajr-5 missiles and now they have their hands on plenty of them.”
• Turkey has formally requested the deployment of Nato Patriot missiles on its territory in what it called a defensive measure against the threat of attack from Syria. The alliance’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the alliance would discuss it “without delay” and would send an advance team to Turkey next week to explore potential sites for the Patriot system.
• Rebel groups are trying to secure a string of districts in southern Damascus before making a ‘final and coordinated’ push on the Syrian capital, according to the Daily Telegraph. “The rebels are trying to connect towns in south Damascus so that the Free Syrian Army can move between them and closer inside,” a Damascus activist told the paper.
This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.