Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The vultures are circling

Whenever there is a war between Israel and the Palestinians (every two years or so) and the Palestinian death toll begins to rise (because they don't have any shelters or warning system, except the IDF), then the diplomatic vultures begin circling.
Today we had the visit of the German FM Franz-Walter Steinmeier, a true vulture if ever there was one.  He is here of course to ask for a ceasefire, in which both sides are considered equally at fault and must cease all hostilities ("mutual restraint").  This is based on the UN Security Council resolution drafted by our friend Jordan, that does not even mention Hamas firing missiles into Israel's populated areas.  Tony Blair, the Quartet representative has been circling around Netanyahu and Peres for a few scraps. Then the biggest vulture of all, US Secty of State John Kerry, was due to land in Cairo to pick over the bones.  Such vultures as the French FM Laurent Fabius and the EU Foreign Policy coordinator Catherine Ashton, have gone on record also demanding that Israel cease its aggressive military action.  They also say that Hamas should stop firing rockets into Israel, but since they don't talk to Hamas there is no conviction in that request. Finally, Egyptian Pres al-Sisi proposed a ceasefire to be effective as of 9 am today (Tues).  The entire international community, UN Secty Gen Ban-ki Moon, US Pres Obama, British FM Haig, EU Foreign expert Ashton and the Arab League, all endorsed the Egyptian proposal. 
The Israeli Government immediately accepted Egypt's ceasefire at a Cabinet meeting Tues morning and all Israeli military action ceased.  This is a smart move by Israel, although Israel has given up a potential tangible advantage by accepting this ceasefire now, namely no ground invasion.  The Israeli armor and troops have been poised on the Gaza border for a week now, but have not been called into action.  So far the damage done to Hamas and the infrastructure in Gaza is tremendous, with over 1,500 sorties by the IAF.  It is estimated that Hamas had ca. 9,000 missiles (they have plenty of missiles, but not enough food, medicine or electricity for their people) and they have fired ca. 1,000 at Israel in the current hostilities and Israel has destroyed an estimated 3,000.  That leaves them with another 5,000 still on hand, mostly stored underground.  If there is a ceasefire without addressing these missiles, then this is an open invitation for another round of rocket attacks to start in a few years.  Only if these missiles are destroyed by some international agreement or Israel goes in with ground forces to find and destroy all missile caches can there be a peaceful outcome of this conflict.
Hamas immediately rejected this Egyptian ceasefire. Hamas regard al-Sisi as an enemy, because he has decimated their ally, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and to accept his mediation is an affront for them. In effect the ceasefire does not give the Palestinians any basis to declare a victory, what have they gained by this confrontation?  Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel (some 50 Tues morning) and alarms sounded all over southern and central Israel, while this morning the IDF ceased all military activities. Meanwhile the rockets were still being fired from Gaza and Tues afternoon adter 6 hours the IDF again began retaliating.  Who are the war-mongers?  This rejection by Hamas plays into the hands of Israel.


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