GAZA CEASE-FIRE: A DEFEAT FOR ISRAEL & NETANYAHU
"GAZA (Reuters) - With gunshots, sweets and cries of victory, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip poured into the streets to celebrate a ceasefire deal on Wednesday which ended eight days of deadly fighting between Israel and Islamist militants. After being stuck at home for days for fear of Israeli air strikes, tens of thousands of Palestinians crowded into cars and doubled up on motorcycles, waving flags and chanting for Hamas, Israel's main adversary and rulers of the Gaza Strip. Women leaned over balconies ululating with joy as children stuffed four-abreast in the open trunks of cars clapped and sent out hoarse screams of "God is Great!". "We feel like we've gotten our freedom back, our lives back. Thank God for Hamas, and thank God for the patience and strength of the Palestinian people in humbling Israel," said Mohammed Skeik, marching with a pack of fist-pumping friends. The Egyptian-brokered ceasefire put an end to Israeli air raids which bombed hundreds of Hamas targets and the firing of more than 2,000 rockets and mortar bombs by Hamas and other factions into Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. In all, 162 Palestinians, including 37 children and 11 women, were killed in the offensive, along with three Israeli civilians and a soldier. Firing a deafening burst from his Kalashnikov rifle, Mohammed al-Ghazaleh boasted: "(Israeli Prime Minister) Netanyahu will mourn tonight, while the people of Gaza are steadfast in their resistance and have triumphed." "Israel won't think of challenging us like this ever again. We payed a dear price in the blood of our people for their aggression, but we made great gains and showed our strength," he said. Members of Hamas's top political echelons, also forced to seek shelter during the raids because Israel had them in its sights, joined eagerly in the grandstanding. "The resistance achieved a historic victory against the occupation and laid the foundation for the battle of liberation for all our land and sacred sites," said senior Hamas official Ahmed Bahar. During a lull in fighting eight days ago, Israel launched an offensive by assassinating Hamas's acting military chief, Ahmed Al-Jaabari, on November 14. "Jaabari won, alive and dead," Hamas activists shouted through loudspeakers of Gaza mosques. Gaza's revelers seemed less concerned with the details of the truce or whether they thought Israel would keep its part of the bargain than achieving what they saw as a symbolic victory. "Imagine, the rockets of our resistance hitting Tel Aviv, hitting them and making them afraid everywhere they were. Nobody thought we could strike at them like this," said Saleh Abu Khaled, sitting on the stoop of his apartment, his children frolicking around him still in their pajamas. "It doesn't matter if they break the truce, we're ready to fight them again tomorrow. But we hope they learned a lesson this time," he said, grinning widely. The agreement calls on Hamas and Israel to cease all forms of military activity, including Israel's targeted killings of militants, and for an easing of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza. Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas government in Gaza said: "We are satisfied and proud of this agreement and at the steadfastness of our people and their resistance."' Noah Browning, et. al., "Jubilant Palestinians mob Gaza Streets." Reuters. 21 November 2012, in www.reuters.com. On the face of it, the cease-fire between the Hamas regime in Gaza and Israel is an unmitigated defeat for the latter. Make no mistake about it. Notwithstanding the many hundreds of rockets that were fired from Gaza into Israel, including some reaching both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, the Israeli government when it came to take the only step that would end that state of affairs definitively, a full-scale military intervention on the ground, flinched and failed to take the ultimate step. All the rhetoric that will be emitted in the coming days cannot obviate this fact. As the Israeli periodical Haaretz has noted, the terms of the cease-fire are almost exactly the same as that of 2009 1. In effect, by the mere fact that Hamas ability to launch missiles into most areas of Israel proper, has not in the least been damaged or effected by the clash of arms with the Jewish State, means that Hamas has in fact emerged the victor. Just as the Hezbollah was the victor of the 2006 Lebanon War. Unlike operation 'Cast-lead' in 2009, Israel's deterrence has been very negatively impacted. In short, by not winning, Israel has lost and by not losing, Hamas has won. I for one, cannot in the future imagine that many governments will now take as seriously Netanyahu's threats to bomb Persia over the latter's nuclear weapons programme. Given the outcome of the conflict with Gaza, how can anyone? Similarly, if Israeli has shown a willingness to agree to abide (provisionally) by a modus vivendi with Hamas, one can well ask why not a similar modus viviendi of mutual deterrence with Persia? 1. Barak Ravid, "Cease-fire Agreement almost identical to that reached in Operation Cast Lead." Haaretz. 21 November 2012, in www.haaretz.com.