Weeks after Israel withdrew ground troops from Gaza and just days after the largest rocket bombardment of the conflict, the two-month war between Israel and Hamas might actually be drawing to a conclusion. According to Reuters, Gaza-based Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zhuri has claimed that a “long-term ceasefire” has been reached with Israel after a conflict in which other 2000 Palestinians and 68 Israelis have been killed. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to deliver a statement on the agreement at 7 PM local time.
According to Reuters, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet confirmed that a deal has been reached.
The Egyptian government of Fattah Adbul al Sissi — which has taken a hard-line against Hamas and destroyed over 1,600 of its cross-border smuggling tunnels with Egypt — reportedly brokered the agreement, in which Israel lifts restrictions on the importation of food and construction materials and widens the area permitted for fishing off of the Gaza coast, and Egypt opens the Rafah border crossing under Palestinian Authority supervision. The agreement also requires future discussions for the opening of an airport and seaport in the Gaza Strip.
If these reports are accurate, Hamas scaled back many of its demands from earlier in the conflict. Hamas had wanted Rafah to be supervised by “friendly Arab states” and had made the air and seaport a quid pro quo for the end of hostilities. Instead, Hamas would cede the border crossing to their rivals in the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, and end the rocket fire based on the vague possibility that Egypt and Israel would allow the construction of a port facility.
At the same time, Hamas would have succeeded in exacting concessions from Israel by force of arms. The cost is steep, at least by conventional standards: over half of its rockets are gone, its attack tunnel network is in ruins, hundreds of its fighters are dead, and parts of the Gaza Strip are decimated.
But it managed to keep up a rocket bombardment in spite of what a conventional state would count as an battlefield defeat — and possibly even gained as a result of it.
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