How long will the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas last?


Hamas has now once again been given time to recover and rearm to be ready for another round of attacks at their chosen time, putting Israel on the back foot having to respond to their dictate. WALTER BINGHAM

YAHYA SINWAR, leader of Hamas in Gaza, gestures on stage during a rally in Gaza City on May 24

(photo credit: ATIA MOHAMMED/FLASH90)

Thankfully, Israel is now beginning to recover from the effects of the corona pandemic. Restrictions are being lifted and life is slowly returning to normal.

Well, not quite. The Gaza based terrorist organization, Hamas, backed by Qatar and Iran, saw to it that we are not getting any respite. Hamas decided to test Israel’s resolve to respond to an attack. Under the pretext of support for the events in Jerusalem’s Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood (or Sheikh Jarrah by its Arabic name), where a Jewish owner is reclaiming his property from long-time Arab residents who are refusing to pay rent, Hamas fired some 4,360 rockets plus occasional anti-tank shells into Israel. This is of course nothing new, but this time they increased the intensity, range and accuracy, reaching the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv areas. There was much damage and there were numerous Israeli casualties, including several deaths.

Israel’s response, although measured, was stronger than in the past – with what seems targeted killings of senior Hamas leaders as well as intensified aerial bombardment of the terrorist infrastructure. Yet the consensus of opinion expressed by the Israeli public shows dissatisfaction with Israel’s reaction. The continuous piecemeal reaction to the intermittent rocket attacks during past years is interpreted by the enemy as weakness and hence the increased brazen intensity of their attacks.

The two-faced leader of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, encouraged Arab riots within Israel when he said, “There is no peace, security or stability except with the full liberation from the ‘occupation’ and its return to the Palestinian people; our people have spoken and we support them. We want a future without aggression, without settlements and without settlers.” He went on in a tirade against “the occupying state,” whipping up the emotions of the Israeli Arab population.

The international community – and particularly US President Joe Biden – exerted great pressure on Israel to agree to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt, which came into effect after Day 11 of the hostilities.

THE BRUNT of the rocket attacks on Israel was borne by the cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod and the communities situated within a few kilometers of the border with Gaza. On a visit to Ashkelon during the fighting, I asked Mayor Tomer Glam how he would like to see the current hostilities end. He reiterated twice that both he and the population of Ashkelon would accept any decision of the government.

From my enquiries, his response did not accord with the views of his long-suffering population and that of the area bordering Gaza. Their fear – that like on previous occasions, Israel will again capitulate to the international pressure for a ceasefire before the task is complete – was borne out.

Hamas has now once again been given time to recover, to regroup and rearm to be ready for another round of attacks at their chosen time, putting Israel on the back foot having to respond to their dictate.

Israel’s acquiescence to the demands of America was a humiliating surrender and a victory for Hamas, who have shown their ability to disrupt Israel’s economy at will. Theirs is the initiative, placing Israel on the back foot. And that is why we are in this situation now and have been ever since the Disengagement from Gaza in 2005 and even before. That withdrawal was another occasion interpreted by Hamas that Israel has no stomach to stand its ground.

The latest rocket attacks were a brilliant tactic to exploit Israel’s internal political troubles, a country without a government backed by the people, a government disunited and fragmented. What a better time for Hamas to have acted. Yes, they suffered considerable damage to their military infrastructure, but Israel’s humanitarian action of giving notice to residents of targeted buildings also gave Hamas time to remove key equipment.

Unless Israel conducts a comprehensive ground offensive to seek out the heads of Hamas, destroy the remnants of the terrorist regime to prevent it from ever being able to recover and install a temporary military administration until calm is restored, we shall see these rocket attacks occurring again and again. During such a period of administration Israel would have to take care of the welfare of the ordinary population in Gaza.

It can be safely assumed that there is a silent majority of Gaza’s suffering population that would support such a move. Like under all totalitarian regimes, they need to pay lip service to the policy of Hamas or suffer serious consequences. No one there knows who their neighbor is, and opposition means risking execution.

I can see similarities between the attitude and actions of the Nazi leaders in the final days of the battle for the defense of Berlin and the Hamas leadership in Gaza. Both remained holed up in well-appointed bunkers deep underground, from where they conduct operations; both were sacrificing their population in the prosecution of their fruitless ideology.

As for our well-meaning President Reuven Rivlin’s long campaign for peaceful coexistence with our Arab population, which he hoped would be his legacy, that has been shown to be a mirage that manifested itself in the last days of his six-year presidency.

THE INTERNATIONAL community bears a heavy responsibility in fueling the current situation by their support of the so-called aid organization UNWRA, the United Nations Works and Relief Agency for Palestinian refugees. This organization operates under false pretenses while supporting Hamas and to some degree is actually staffed by Hamas in Gaza.

Now I ask, what would the US do if every day hundreds of rockets were fired from Mexico at her cities and towns? How would Germany react if it were attacked with rockets daily from Holland? Would they not retaliate?

And one more thing. Have you ever heard of a country at war that would telephone the residents of buildings it had to target an hour before so that they can get out? That of course also gave Hamas the opportunity to remove their important terrorists and items. In many cases Israel first dropped harmless explosives onto the roof to give a final warning.

The media organizations Associated Press and Al Jazeera that had offices in a building that was destroyed have the gall to claim that they were not aware of the Hamas offices in the building. That is unrealistic, coming from newshounds whose job it is to investigate everything that’s going on in that small strip called Gaza. By the way, they too had warnings and all their staff evacuated safely.

Would the US armed services or any other country’s army store weapons in private houses, under schools or even in kindergartens? That is a war crime, and so is placing rocket launchers in school yards and among private houses. It is only the care and accuracy of Israel’s response that prevented more casualties. Hamas on the other hand fired indiscriminately into Israel’s population centers with the express intention of killing civilians.

Why is it that despite those many missiles, Israel suffered only 12 dead, whereas in Gaza the number is reportedly in excess of 200?

I’ll tell you why. Because Israel protects its population from rockets, whereas Hamas protects its rockets with the population. That is a war crime. Israel built bomb shelters and safe rooms in most buildings, but Hamas built attack tunnels with sophisticated communication systems and weapon stores. They also killed many of their own people with errant rockets. That is why they have more casualties. 140 of the dead in Gaza were targeted Hamas terrorists and 20 civilians were killed by failed Hamas rockets that landed within Gaza. In Israel’s frontline areas, school lessons are held in bomb shelters; in Gaza, schools are weapon storage places.

I believe we must install a temporary military administration – enter the area and root out the remnants of the terrorist infrastructure. I feel sure that much of Gaza’s long-suffering population would support such a move. I hope that our next Israeli government will no longer allow Hamas to call the shots (excuse the pun) but after the next rocket will eliminate them once and for all.

The writer, at 97, is registered in the Guinness World Records as the oldest active journalist and radio show host. He presents ‘Walter’s World’ on Israel National Radio (Arutz 7) and ‘The Walter Bingham File’ on Israel Newstalk Radio. Both are in English.



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